by Gerald Moon
ONSTAGE in Bedford
Directed by – Seth Johnston
Set Designer – Angela Posey Destro
Lighting Designer – Scott Davis
Sound Designer – Kevin Brazil
Costume Designer – Erika Durham
Prop Designer – Kristin M. Burgess
Fight Coordinator – Adam Kullman
Stage Manager – Jeremy William Osborne
Michael E. Spencer – Evelyn/Rupert
Kit Hussey – Major Powell
Rose Anne Holman – Mrs. McGee
Andrew Bryan –Officer Hawkins
Reviewed Performance: 10/15/2017
Reviewed by Carol M. Rice, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I love a good whodunit. The twists and turns always manage to surprise me (although my husband and older son can always figure it out). Corpse! is actually a play that’s sitting on my shelf at home, and I vaguely remember reading and enjoying it many years ago, but one twin brother wanting to kill the other is about as far as my memory goes, so most of the twists and turns in ONSTAGE’s production were unknown to me. And, quite frankly, that’s all you need to know as an audience member going in, too.
Angela Posey Destro’s creative use of the space for two completely different sets was very well done. Half of the stage was Evelyn’s seedy flat while the other half was Rupert’s classy apartment. The creative use of color and levels made the small space at ONSTAGE seem larger, and Scott Davis’ lighting also added to the class differences, although I wish the wall fixtures in Rupert’s apartment had been practical. I kept wondering why they weren’t on. Kevin Brazil as sound designer provided appropriate ominous music and occasional underscoring throughout the show.
Erika Durham’s costume design was well executed, as she was able to make subtle changes between Rupert and Evelyn that were easy for the actor to do quickly, and Kristin M. Burgess provided suitable props for each of the locations as well. The difference between decorative carafes of expensive whiskey versus bottles of the cheap stuff is always a nice differentiator between classes.
Corpse! Photos - all credit James Jamison
Director Seth Johnson makes use of all of these design and technical elements well throughout, and his casting worked well for the story. Michael E. Spencer had the lion’s share of dialogue and stage time, and he had to do it all as two different people! The acting choices he made to differentiate the two characters were nicely understated and generally effective, as he made Evelyn dramatic and fey, while Rupert was much more staid. Overall Spencer did a smashing job with a difficult role (roles?), although I wish his British accent had been better.
Evelyn’s alcoholic, sex-starved landlady Mrs. McGee was portrayed by Rose Anne Holman. Her ability to pop in to Evelyn’s flat unannounced (and consequently, at the most inappropriate times) was uncanny. The same goes for Andrew Bryan’s Officer Hawkins and his inconvenient arrival at Rupert’s swanky apartment. The two characters make for an intriguing parallel between the two brothers, as one is attempting to corrupt while the other is trying to maintain order and safety, both with less than desirable results.
Kit Hussey’s Major Powell was the strongest of the four-person cast. Hussey‘s portrayal of the down-on-his-luck petty criminal was simply brilliant, from his spot-on lower class Irish accent to his facial expressions and body language. Even when he had to talk to himself onstage (one of the weaker parts of the script), he was perfectly believable. His performance alone is worth seeing the show for.
Hussey also proves himself quite adept at stage combat, as he and Spencer do an excellent job with Adam Kullman’s fight choreography. From throwing punches to a swordfight, Kullman utilizes the tiny spaces well and makes the actors seem quite believable during their stage battles.
ONSTAGE in Bedford has a solid reputation for putting on good work, and they continue this fine tradition with Corpse! If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary thriller this Halloween season that isn’t full of gore, Corpse! would be an excellent choice.
ONSTAGE in Bedford
2801 Forest Ridge Drive (Trinity Arts Theater in Bedford Boys Ranch)
Bedford, TX, 76021
Runs through October 29, 2018
Actual days (Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm)
Tickets are $ $14.99 for students/seniors and $19.99 for adults.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.onstageinbedford.com or call the box office at 817-354-6444.