Titlow, Corn Productions, at the Cornservatory. Crime musicals generally don’t pay. Even Stephen Sondheim’s track record is hit-or-miss (Sweeney Todd=hit, Assassins=miss). But the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times story on which this play is based certainly has the makings of meaty high drama. Titlow conspires with his gambling-addict cousin to kill their wealthy uncle to get money for Titlow’s sex-change operation. Postchange, she advertises herself as an escort-dominatrix and falls in love with a lounge singer. Unfortunately, playwright-lyricist-director Robert Bouwman dwells ad nauseam on Titlow’s masculine-feminine conflict, focusing on the inner woman’s need to break out.

The man and woman who share the role of Titlow, Brad Larsen and Sarah Clare Meyer, mirror each other’s hand gestures–reaching, stroking, miming a falling tear with a pinky finger across the face. He says, “I’ve been waiting so long.” She says, “I’ve been waiting so long–to become.” Cue music. The lyrics: “I’ve been waiting so long [repeat three times] for becoming.” Tedious and grammatically incorrect. Bouwman’s preoccupation leaves no time to delve into other aspects of the killer’s psyche or move the supporting characters beyond foulmouthed caricatures. As director, though, Bouwman makes efficient use of the Cornservatory’s tiny space and the supporting cast, which functions as a Greek chorus. The ensemble’s rapt focus and modulated chanting would greatly add to the tension–if the story actually had any.