Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Dangerous Corner"

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Beverly Creasey

Devilish Gaiety
at Hovey

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

What fun it is to discover an old chestnut like J.B. Priestley’s decadent DANGEROUS CORNER, stylishly performed by Hovey Players in Waltham (through the end of the month). The ingenious hybrid of a murder mystery and a screwball comedy plays like a “Masterpiece Theatre” production, full of “malicious amusement” and hilarious Deco detail.

Picture a well-appointed country house where seven people enjoy after dinner drinks and clever conversation. The sparkling repartee, the kind witty writers in the ‘30s were famous for, suddenly, whimsically, turns philosophical and the subject is “truth.”

Priestley plays fast and loose with that “truth” but we sign on happily for the ride. What must have been an elegant period play in its day has become a side-splitting spoof of those upper crusted, well coifed murder mysteries.

A suicide, some missing funds and the fate of a well established publishing house add up to a thoroughly amusing joyride, skidding, as one of the characters says, around corners “at 60 m.p.h.” Justin Budinoff directs the play deliciously, with characters archly parading about, drawing room style, drinks in hand, as one shocking confession leads to the next.

The host and hostess are the quintessential ‘30s “old money,” he with his stately manner, double-breasted suit and perfect hair…and she, with her sophisticated bob and gorgeous maroon lace dress and matching shoes. (Kudos to Helene Andersson for the posh costumes) John Tierney and Christine Connor are simply delightful as the ever so cool and collected Chatfields. Michelle Aguillon is as wonderfully repressed a character as Ronni Marshak is not. Aguillon sits straight as an arrow as the long suffering Olwen while Marshak gestures wildly in anticipation of juicy gossip. (Pity is, she misses most of it!)

Sally Oldham is the very definition of controlled hysteria as the wife of the noisily overwrought Gordon (Peter Floyd). Bruce Adams is the odd man out, as they say about confirmed bachelors. John MacKenzie’s charming country house is so convincing that I thought I saw that owl outside the window (in Jeremy Medicus’ azure twilight). To paraphrase Adams’ explanation for the mystery, I’ll give you three reasons to go to Hovey : Laughter, laughter and more laughter. It’s so good for the soul.

"Dangerous Corner" (16 -31 May)
The Abbott Memorial Theatre, 9 Spring Street, WALTHAM

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