note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey
John “Ingmar Bergman” Kuntz has written a murky mystery about a lake which inspires the worst in human behavior. JASPER LAKE may look like paradise to an outsider but, like Peyton Place just up the road a piece, it would seem to provoke murder, incest, suicide, adultery and racism. Everything but the kitchen sink pops up in Kuntz’s tragi-comic (not enough of the comic for my taste) slice of affluent Americana.
I stand corrected. The kitchen sink stands center stage: Actually, it’s a gleaming porcelain tub in Eric Allgeir’s spare set. The creepy goings-on are intriguing but I wasn’t sure who murdered whom or even if there was a murder. I even assumed (incorrectly?) that the teenage girl in the tub was the grownup with slashed wrists. Maybe it’s a memory play and everyone is already dead, a la George Romero. Maybe Kuntz wants to keep us in the dark.
Douglas Mercer’s cast keeps the mystery afloat, with standout performances from Amanda Sywak and Eduoard Tournier as the troubled teens and from Eric Gould as the hilarious hitchhiker Sarah Abrams adopts as a soulmate. Haddon Kime’s gushes, gurgles and gasps gave me the chills and Kuntz’s sadistic view of lake shore living will have me thinking twice about where to vacation next summer.