Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Night Must Fall"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"Night Must Fall"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Players third show of their 96th season is Emlyn Williams 1935 British melodrama, "Night Must Fall". It takes place in a secluded bungalow in the woods in Essex. It tells the story of the wealthy but crotchety old Mrs. Bramson, who pretends to be an invalid. She hires a charming bellhop named Danny who has impregnated her pretty, easy maid. He becomes her live-in companion and charms the household staff with the exception of Mrs. Bramson's niece, Olivia, a repressed young woman who suspects Danny of foul play. When news of a local murder is revealed, Olivia suspects Danny. Although repulsed by the thought he may have committed the crime, Olivia also finds herself becoming increasingly attracted to Danny at the same time. Throw in a funny outspoken cook, Olivia's oafish suitor, a Scotland Yard inspector and a visiting nurse and you having the makings for this character driven melodrama. Director Cait Calvo gives each of her performers distinct personalities so the audience knows who's who throughout the show but still gets surprised by the turn of events in the second act. Audible gasps are heard from the audience showing the twists and turns in this 1935 script that keep you guessing the outcome of the show.

Cait is aided in her task by her hard working stage manager, Elizabeth Messier who keeps things running smoothly onstage as well as backstage. The set designer Tom Norton creates a cozy bungalow of the 1930's with Eleanor Boober as the scenic artist. Some lovely 1930's costumes are by the talented Susan Bergeron and the numerous props are by Barbara Greene. The melodramatic music and sound effects for the show are provided by sound designer, Bill Pett who does double duty as the fastidious Inspector who keeps trying to solve the mystery. Leading this cast with an outstanding performance is Daniel Colbert as Danny. The character's complex behavior is conveyed perfectly to the audience by his comic and dramatic prowess. He oozes charm to capture the heart of the miserable old woman but his motives aren't revealed until later on in the show. Daniel handles these transitions wonderfully, keeping you mesmerized throughout the show.

Linda Monchik plays the tyrannical hypochondriac, Mrs. Bramson perfectly. She rants and raves about suing everyone in sight unless her slightest whims are met until Dan appears on the scene, bringing out her maternal tenderness towards him. Her straight laced, uptight niece, Olivia is played by Sharon Carpentier who is Daniel's real life girlfriend. Olivia can't seem to make up her mind about Dan in the show and even though she gets a marriage proposal from her nice but unexciting beau, Hubert played with a comic flair by well seasoned actor, Rick Bagley. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Marcia Layden as Mrs. Terence. She is hilarious as the strong willed cook who stands up to the spiteful old woman. Marcia is a comic gem in this show. Another comic turn is provided by Melanie Estes as the dumb maid, Dora who had a fling in the woods with Dan during the summer holidays. She makes her debut on the Players stage in this role and in real life is a grad student at URI, showing she hasn't been typecast as dumb Dora. Last but not least is Eva-Marie Coffey as Nurse Libby. She makes her debut in her first speaking role onstage, holding her own with veteran performers and delivering a comic bit in act two when she pulls brandy out of her medical bag. So for a trip back in time to the days when melodrama kept audiences entertained, be sure to catch "Night Must Fall". To join this theater club, just give Lydia a call or drop her an email at ThePlayers1909@aol.com .

"Night Must Fall" ( 27 - 30 January)
THE PLAYERS
400 Benefit Street, PROVIDENCE RI
1 (401) 273-0590

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