Theatre Mirror Review>"The Unexpected Guest"

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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"The Unexpected Guest"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Renaissance Theatre Company, the producing entity at the Granite Theatre's current show is "The Unexpected Guest" by Agatha Christie. A thriller set at a foggy estate in Wales, this mystery opens with a stranger walking into the house, finding a man murdered and his wife standing over him with a gun. But the woman is dazed and her confession is unconvincing. The unexpected guest decides to help her and blame the murder on an intruder. Later the police discover clues that point to a man who died two years previously and a Pandora's Box of love and hate, suspicion and intrigue is opened in the night air. So the tale unfolds with the usual twists and turns as the show's nine performers deliver the goods under John Cillino's expert direction.

John blocks the show beautifully and obtains strong performances from his cast. Christie gives her performers tons and tons of dialogue to deliver and John makes them emphasize the main points to the audience so they savor and enjoy the plot of the show wonderfully. The exposition between the guest and the wife seems to take forever! The second act is better written than the first and moves along wonderfully. David LeRocque tackles the lead role of the guest. He takes charge of the situation at hand while playing this complex man. To say anymore about what the characters do would give away the plot of the show so I'll describe some of their undertakings.

Lisa Clough plays the lead role of Laura Warwick. She plays the role with the icy cool style of a Grace Kelly and then peels back the hidden layers as the show progresses. Alan McLaughlin plays the next door neighbor who is also a budding politician. He plays this mysterious man who has a secret connection to someone in the house. But who? The Inspector is wonderfully played by Michael Jepson. His interrogation of the suspects is very well done and keeps your interest, too. Another strong performance is by Patricia Spencer Smith who plays the secretary, Miss Bennett. All of her scenes are beautifully portrayed but her best one is with the character of Jan where she gets him to reveal his secret or does she? This is her last show at the theatre before she moves to Virginia and her talent will be sorely missed in Westerly.

Two of the funniest roles are played by Hassan Demartino as Jan Warwick and Tom Steenburg as Sgt.Cadwallder. Hassan shines as the mentally challenged younger brother of the murder victim. He steals many a scene with his phenomenal comic acting skills. His tantrums and nervous behavior are right on the money and he wins the most applause and laughter in this show. does a topnotch job as the poetry spouting detective. He quotes Keats and writes his own poetry, too while taking notes for the inspector. Rounding out the cast are Chris Maxwell as the slimy male nurse and Mary Sue Chiaradio as the doddering, Mrs. Warwick who thinks she knows who did it. They both deliver strong and nuanced performances in these roles. Patricia, Hassan, Tom, Chris and Mary Sue have the strongest British accents of the evening. So for a spine tingling murder mystery full of suspense and mystery, be sure to catch "The Unexpected Guest'' by the Renaissance Theatre Company.

"The Unexpected Guest" (4 - 27 September)
@ 1 Granite Street, WESTERLY RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide