The cast of The Spider…or the Fly. Photo-Little Colonel
The Spider…or the Fly
By Sam Bobrick
Directed by George Robert Bailey
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
All theatre companies develop a profile, and any company that has been around as long as Little Colonel Playhouse will have a history that will force certain expectations upon an audience. LCP is a “community” theatre in the classic sense, with the loyal patronage to support it, and such circumstance tends to cultivate a penchant for more traditional, “safe” fare, so the first thing to say about The Spider…or the Fly is that it is riskier material than what we might be used to at this Pewee Valley mainstay, a thriller with a theme of psycho-sexual manipulation and an illusion vs reality structure that keeps the audience guessing until the final moments and beyond.
Which, of course, makes the typical and tedious reviewer’s plot synopsis a dangerous and slippery slope. Suffice it to say that the action follows the separate interaction of two couples, each a man and a woman getting to know one another for the first time…and a murder trial…and an enigmatic manuscript…okay. That’s all you get. To invoke the cliché: to say more would spoil it.
The script keeps the audience off balance pretty effectively; actively engaging you in a manner that prompted plenty of chatter during scene changes on opening night. George Robert Bailey’s staging takes the measure of that edginess, executing the first scene in silhouette; a silent pantomime of a violent murder that nicely set the tone for what followed with a film noir sensibility. As the action shifted back and forth between the two stories, the lighting clearly delineated the distinction in time within the same location, that would seem to divide the two scenarios. Some nice choices in music reinforced the atmosphere of dread.
Mr. Bailey has mixed success with the performances, although some reticence and lack of dimension in the playing may be attributable to opening night, as things improved as the play developed. Spencer Korcz did well by Tom, illustrating the balance of charm and intimidation that is necessary for at least three of the four characters. Leila Toba’s Jan is the most innocent of the four, and she has less of a challenge in comparison, but she proves an effective presence onstage and carefully manages the buildup of fear that is the important conduit for the audience’s identification with the threat.
Kristen Scott and Jeff Mangum carry the greatest weight of exposition in their scenes, which begin innocuously and progress into dark territory of obsession and psychosis. Ms. Scott’s performance was characterized by a collection of mannerisims that were slightly annoying, but such neurotic tics functioned as foreshadowing of where their relationship is headed. How much is by design and how much is not, I cannot say, but it works, and there was a flicker of danger in her eyes. Mr. Mangum’s work here feels like he is still searching for such subtext, and his character transitions don’t probe beneath surfaces enough, missing the edge the play requires of him.
The Spider…or the Fly is a fairy adult offering, with little to offend but plenty to challenge an audience that’s ready to stay sharp in their attention to the action unfolding before them.
The Spider…or the Fly
February 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 2015 @ 8:00pm
February 15, 22, 2015 @ 2:30pm
Adult tickets are $15; Senior Citizen (60+) and Student tickets are $12, cash or check only. www.littlecolonel.org
Little Colonel Playhouse
302 Mt. Mercy Drive
Pewee Valley, KY 40056
[box_light]Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at the Louisville Visual Art Association during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.[/box_light]