Half there

Circle Theatre's Better Half Dead fails to convince

The play really goes amiss, though, when it breaks the rules of its own game. You may recall how in the Brian DePalma thriller Dressed to Kill, Michael Caine was running around in drag slicing up people with a razor blade. DePalma cheated the audience in that film when he showed glimpses of the killer that clearly were not Caine, in drag or otherwise. These glimpses led you to believe that the killer was either a woman or a slightly built man, not the protocorpulent Caine. When Caine proved to be the killer after all, it was a ripoff that still sticks in my craw 10 years later. The same sort of thing goes on in Better Half Dead when the conniving characters practice their various deceptions even when their intended victims are out of sight and earshot. That leaves a false scent for the audience that's not entirely fair, and undermines the inner consistency of the piece.

As a result, you leave Better Half Dead feeling entertained, but also slightly resentful.

Better Half Dead plays through September 16 at Circle Theatre in Fort Worth. (817) 877-3040.

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