Volume 95, Issue 39

Friday, November 9, 2001
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Noise Conspiracy aims left

Play lacks more than a convincing plot

Planet Smashers: five guys in a van

You perv! That one-eyed green thing is a monster

Play lacks more than a convincing plot

Evelyn Strange

Judy Cormier, John Douglas, Anne Busby, Paul Myers

Directed By: Virginia Kelly

Two stars (out of five)

By Antonio Tan
Gazette Writer

Evelyn Strange lacks a few critical features that could make it a good mystery play.

Judy Cairns/
Off Broadway Photo

Set in New York City in 1955, Evelyn Strange tells the story of an amnesiac named Evelyn (Judy Cormier) who mysteriously appears in an opera box during a performance of the Wagnerian opera, Siegfried.

She is noticed by one of the other occupants in the box, Perry Spangler (John Douglas), a sub-editor at a major New York publishing company, who immediately becomes smitten with her.

Strange is unaware of her circumstances. The only evidence pointing to her true identity is a red notebook containing indecipherable text.

Into the picture steps Nina Ferrer (Anne Busby), the unloved publisher's wife and Lewis Hake (Paul Myers), Spangler's smarmy co-worker, who further complicate circumstances.

What ensues is nonsensical in comparison to other plays of this genre. The plot's twists and turns become preposterous, even more so when everything is finally pieced together.

The first act efficiently constructs the plot, but the play becomes sluggish in the second.

The method of solving the mystery is poorly handled by Lemoine. Having the characters act out potential scenarios on the living room couch to help jog Evelyn's memory demonstrates a lack of effort from the writer.

Lemoine gives into the mush factor by play's end with the ever-precious romantic kiss that will have you either gagging because of the playwright's plea to sentimentality or rolling your eyes at its tackiness.

But this is forgivable, given this is being performed by a community theatre company. Since plays such as this one are standard for community productions, one should enter the theatre with lowered standards for acting and character development.

Douglas is good as the unassuming sub-editor, Spangler. His performance, though inconsistent, has the potential to be intense and fiery. When certain dramatic opportunities arise, these qualities are sorely missed.

Myers is also fine, but also suffers from misguided potential.

Busby is unfortunately unconvincing as Nina Ferrer, an unloved older woman who is rejuvenated by an extra-marital affair.

As Evelyn Strange, Cormier's performance is quiet and lacks any hint of fragility and vulnerability. You'd like to believe her when she bursts into tears or finally remembers herself, but you might as well continue fidgeting in your seat and shrug your shoulders.

Virginia Kelly's production of Evelyn Strange tries for stylishness and it partially succeeds. However, the direction is only as good as the company's performances and those are only lukewarm.

Evelyn Strange plays through Nov. 17 @ the Palace Theatre. For ticket info, call the Grand Theatre Box Office at 672-8800.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001