CARS HOMES JOBS

Review: Homage to Hitchcock a fun workout

Sunday, May 27, 2012
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— Playwrights Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore are a cottage industry of comic plays — more than 20 in all — with titles like “Love, Sex, and the IRS,” “Having a Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Her,” and “A Night at the Nutcracker.”

Currently at Curtain Call, in a wild and woolly production, is “Wrong Window,” an entertaining send-up of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.”

At intermission of Friday’s sold-out opening, the woman behind me said to her companion, “We need a laugh. We need a laugh.” I don’t know exactly why she needed one, but I agree with her on principle, and “Wrong Window” got me laughing in a number of ways, sometimes in spite of myself.

'Wrong Window'

WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham

WHEN: Through June 23

HOW MUCH: $22

MORE INFO: 877-7529 or theatre.curtaincall@gmail.com

I knew the whole thing was just silly business: Seemingly ordinary people doing things I might only think of doing, like spying on neighbors in an apartment complex (OK, I’ve done something of the sort). Like jumping to conclusions about their behavior (Check). Like thinking I might want to break into their apartment to see if the husband killed the wife and then pretended she had simply disappeared (That’s creepy. I would never do that. I might get caught).

Those of you familiar with the 1954 Grace Kelly/Jimmy Stewart (and Raymond Burr — shudder!) flick will have fun following the fortunes of Marnie (Kathleen Carey) and Jeff (Ben Katagiri) Elbies and their married friends Robbie (Jed Krivisky) and Midge (Sarah Wasserbach). Mystery novel writer Marnie and Jeff have just reunited after a separation, during which, unfortunately, Jeff had an affair with Lila Larswold (Jenna Dott), whose apartment is visible through the picture window of the Elbies’ apartment. All sorts of complications ensue when, after finding Lila’s dead body, this quartet tries to prove that her husband, Thor (Joe Sears), has offed her (The characters’ names, by the way, are part of the Hitchcock homage).

Van Zandt & Milmore are not above juvenile sight gags and sexual double entendres — no cool Kelly and stalwart Stewart here. As a result, the actors, CCT veterans all, get a workout running from pillar to post and playing with the audience, and they do so expertly. Credit director Phil Rice. What strikes me about many Curtain Call productions is the degree to which young performers can continue to develop their craft under talented teachers like Rice.

John J. Quinan is properly impatient as Detective Thomas, a sane man in a loony bin. Clown prince Jack Fallon hit his stride as the show went on Friday, culminating in a hilarious denouement. Dott prompted the aforementioned woman behind me to marvel aloud at her stillness. I marveled, too.

Sears’s stony stare and muttering under his breath are blood-chilling. Wasserbach and Carey amusingly play two women who could be Lucy and Ethel giving in to their worst instincts. And Krivisky and Katagiri are comic foils of the first order, both with inexhaustible physical energy, rubbery faces and split-second timing. What they could do with “Irma Vep.”

Kudos as well to Rebecca Lord-Surratt’s functional and fun set design, backed by the stage management of Emily Venezia and the work of Xavier Pierce (lighting), Jay Spriggs (sound) and Roberta Rice (props).

Note: A bell and a light go off from time to time during the show. See if you can figure out why. It’s a clever touch by Van Zandt & Milmore, who clearly had a ball writing this script.

 
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