CLEVER, ZANY “ACCOMPLICE”
AT THE THEATRE WITH AUDREY LINDEN
One word for Rupert Holmes’ murder mystery, “Accomplice” at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills would be “inventive”. And, I’d say it was very inventive with a sprinkle of zaniness. You will be kept guessing in this remarkable “who done it”. I promise you that you will not even have a hint until the very end.
Rupert Holmes who also wrote Broadway’s “Curtain”, which I had reviewed at the Ahmanson Theatre, gives us a spell binding play filled with intrigue and extremely sharp and witty dialog. The ensemble of actors did an excellent job, and each maintained their veddy British accents under the bang-up direction by Martin Thompson. Thompson, who has appeared in several Theatre 40 productions, knows how to move the play along at a good clip, and his swift direction kept the play from falling into tedium. Obviously, as an actor, Thompson knew how to get the best work out of his cast: Alison Blanchard, Alice Cutler, Richard Horvitz, and Michael Taylor Gray, and understudy, Paul Del Gattto. Their characterizations were superb.
How to review this play without giving away the plot? It is a delightful play within a play within a play. Only Google Maps or Mapquest could have navigated the many plot twists and turns. But, even without GPS, we did not get stuck in any one turn off the road. Things that appear to be “just so” are not. There were many surprises along the way as this mystery drama unfolded. And, all questions were answered at the marvelous surprise ending.
The British accents, at times, were a little difficult to understand with the rapid pacing, particularly in the beginning scenes of Act 1. My ear got accustomed as the play continued. There is a disconnect on the part of the playwright from Act 1 to Act 2, and it is as if it were two separate plays. Holmes gave us no transition, but that made for bigger surprises in the bumps in the road along the way. The audience has to be willing to suspend reality and go with it. And, the ride is fun, witty and enjoyable. I could see elements of “Curtain” in “Accomplice”. But some elements were a little too contrived though they paid off in the end.
The play is set in Derek and Janet Taylor’s mooreland cottage in England in the mid 70’s. Set designer, Jeff G. Rack’s set gives us the flavor of an English country home quite nicely with warm browns, book shelves, comfy seating, and pictures on the wall. The actors are quite at home, and the set created a believable reality.
As Scene 1 opened, Janet, so well played by Alison Blanchard, is plotting the murder of her husband, Derek, with her lover, (actor Michael Taylor Gray’s role was done by the understudy, Paul Del Gato). And, Del Gato, was quite good and adept with his British accent and physical comedy. Richard Horvith, as Derek gave the master’s touch with his humorous portrayal as the ever punctual and predictable husband. But, is he predictable? Hmmmm? Horvith nailed his character. I really loved his little high pitched giggle. Is anybody or anything really predictable in this play? Alice Cutler, who bears a resemblance to another comedic talent, Kristin Wiig, was marvelous as the dumb blonde and she played her role to the hilt with broad comedy. Who would ever forget her dominatrix outfit and her hesitancy to bear her breasts? Kudos to costume designer, Michele Young. Some scenes were contrived and over-acted. But, much of this play is a “mannered contrivance” and it worked in most scenes throughout the play. There is murder, mystery, intrigue, sexual tidbits, and oh so much more! My mind was continually occupied right up through the end, which I never could have predicted. I was guessing all along. Who would be murdered? Who was the murderer? Who were the accomplices? My GPS did not tell me. You will have to see this fine play at Theatre 40 to satisfy your curiosity. It is a masterful “cat and mouse” mystery that will keep you engaged until the end.
“Accomplice” runs through June 14th at Beverly Hills Theatre 40’s Reuben Cordova Theatre is on the Beverly Hills High School campus at 241 S. Moreno, Beverly Hills, 90212. There is ample free parking in the structure. For show times and reservations, call 310-364-0535.
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She can be seen in a long-running “Associated Tax Resolution” commercial, two “Little Caesars” spots, a “Teva International Pharmaceutical” short, Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels,” “America’s Court with Judge Ross,” VHS “Tough Love 2,” “Wendy’s” , “Shimmer” commercial, Spike T V, and “Insidious 3”
Audrey teaches ON CAMERA COMMERCIAL and IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOPS through the City of Beverly Hills. To register, go on line to www.beverlyhills.org/bhregonline . Her classes are held at 241 Moreno Dr. B.H. 90212. Her next ON CAMERA CLASS starts June 11th for 5 weeks and and IMPROV COMEDY starts June 8th for 5 weeks. Classes are held in Beverly Hills. Early enrollment is advised as ON CAMERA CLASS fills with 12 students and IMPROV with 20 students. For more information, contact Audrey at email@example.com Registration is open now.