Dead Men Don’t Itch pays homage to the classic noir detective movies of the 1940’s with a wink to the writings of Chandler and Hammett. The play is populated with private eyes cracking wise with beautiful sexy femme fatales, crooked cops “in the pocket of” hardnosed mobsters and the sweet young innocent who gets caught up in the mayhem. It has an abundance of duplicitous dames, punk gunsels, missing sisters, stolen Chinese jade statues, a clog dancing monk, and more film noir clichés, innuendos and double entendres than you can shake a loaded roscoe at.



Jake Chapel – a cynical hard-nosed private eye from the Chandler/Hammett noir school – 40’S – MALE

Lester “Honey Lips” Meeks – a broken alcoholic sax player; desperately hoping for a second chance; a typical noir “hero” – 30’S-40’S – MALE

Grace Walfleur – a gorgeous platinum blonde femme fatale. – 20’S-30’S FEMALE

Ivy Horneigh – (pronounced “Horn-NAY”), the widow of Jake’s late partner; in love with Jake – 40’S – MALE OR FEMALE

Lieutenant Mohel – (pronounced “Moyle”), of the LAPD; a gruff crooked cop – 40’S-50’S – MALE

Sergeant Kupchek – of the LAPD; an ape of a man; Mohel’s crooked partner – 30’S-40’S MALE

Ah Fong Gu – the inscrutable Chinese bartender at the Crooked Pagoda – ANY AGE – MALE OR FEMALE

The Frail With The Veil – (Josie Kohlmeiner), a mysterious siren from Jake’s tragic past – 30’S FEMALE

The Kid – a tough young gunsel; trying to hide the fact that “he” is a “she” – 18-25 FEMALE

Frankie Fra’Diavolo – a suave sophisticated sinister mobster – 40’S-50’S – MALE

Angel Walfleur – Grace’s identical twin sister; a raven-haired sexpot – 20’S-30’S FEMALE


Dead Men Don’t Itch was originally presented as a staged reading at the Herbert Mark Newman Theatre in Pleasantville, NY, on March 20, 2003.

Subsequent productions were presented by:

Harlequin Productions of Cayuga Community College in Auburn, NY, on March 6, 2008

The Armonk Players in Armonk, NY, on October 7, 2009

The Winfield Community Theatre in Winfield, Kansas, on April 19-27, 2013

Schenectady Civic Players in Schenectady, NY, on November 1-3, 2013

Greenville Community Theatre in Scarsdale, NY, on June 18-20, 2015

The Oakville Players in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, on March 7-11, 2018



Dead Men Don’t Itch was presented by Harlequin Productions of Cayuga Community College and premiered at the Irene A. Bisgrove Theatre in Auburn, NY, on March 6, 2008. Here is a brief excerpt from the review by Tom Woods, which appeared in the Auburn Citizen on Friday, March 14th:

“The name of this entertainment was Dead Men Don’t Itch and the author was a guy who called himself John Arco. He hadn’t been to the flickers lately. He didn’t know that private dicks were out of style and that nobody these days could say five words without one of them being unprintable here. Sure, he had double entendres to spare, but they had a creepy sort of wholesomeness and a way of making you wince before you gave in and let the laughs tumble out. He used puns like a dentist uses a drill and in the end your smile was there to stay.”


Approximately 90 minutes



Preview available here

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