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Reston Community Players Presents Chapter Two

Prince George’s Little Theatre Art of Murder

By • Oct 27th, 2008 • Category: Reviews
Art of Murder
Prince George’s Little Theatre
Bowie City Hall, Bowie, MD
$15/$10 Seniors and 18 and under
Through November 1st

I’ll be honest: I performed in Art of Murder as Kate a few weeks ago at the Alden Theatre in McLean. I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to review a show that I’d just done and knew so well, despite the obvious difficulty in being objective. It’s always fascinating to see what familiar material will look like in the hands of a new director and cast. This was a very different interpretation of the script, so it truly felt like an entirely different show.

Prince George Little Theatre (PGLT) opened their 49th season with this little jewel of a script. Considering that PGLT’s own theater, The Bowie Playhouse, is currently undergoing major renovations, it was a terrific choice for the limited space at Bowie’s City Hall. It requires a one room set, and has a small cast of four. Set designer Keith Brown has made a functional and bright living room, and the superb art of Jim Stinson creates an appropriately bohemian flavor. There could have been more detail paid to the furniture, which looked more shabby chic than luxurious, but it’s not a crucial point.

Art of Murder, which focuses on noted painter Jack Brooks and his less renowned painter wife, Annie, is filled with plot twists and turns, clever dialogue and outlandish characters.

It’s a black comedy, but first time director Jamie Tyler Baldwin has chosen to focus on the darkness of it rather than the humor. It had an overall feeling of film noir, with a slow pace and subdued delivery, which didn’t quite work for the script. There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm and chemistry amongst the cast, and it just needed more sizzle.

Richard Tovish as Jack Brooks had some trouble in Act I creating the volatile and psychotic artiste persona. He had an offhand, nonchalant manner that didn’t fit his lines or the lines that referred to him. His bio indicates work in film, which unfortunately didn’t fit this particular character as there is no place for subtlety in this show. Luckily, he seemed to find Jack’s voice in Act II and gave it the ego and instability that it warranted as well as the frenetic energy. He had some excellent moments of intensity and arrogance.

Erica Mueller missed the mark as put upon wife and artist Annie Brooks, never firmly establishing a strong personality. Mueller’s youthful appearance and detached interpretation of the character didn’t reflect the layered sophistication that Annie needed, nor the passion required for her later actions.

As flamboyant art dealer Vincent, Tal Reeve infused the show with much needed vigor. He offered Vincent’s often clichéd lines a quirky and unique edge.

Jasmin Danielle Johnson made her small role as Kate the maid memorable. Johnson was very earnest in her delivery, and possessed a great beauty and presence as well.

There was thought and effort put into the show despite the borrowed stage…they did an admirable job with difficult lighting and sound cues, and the costuming was charming. The nice audience turnout enjoyed the show, which finishes its run on November 1st. Please visit www.pglt.org for further details.

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