The Stranger and Ludlow Quinn, Chapter Ten: Houdini

By Diana Grisanti and Steve Moulds
Directed by Amy Atwater

Review by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

So here we arrive at the final “chapter” of this 10-month long serial play, and not all of our questions are answered quite yet. For that we will have to see the full evening adaptation of the material, which arrives next month. This last episode does explain quite a bit, however, bringing us the deepest understanding thus far of the dark, magical forces at work in this story.

We are still with Bonnie (Becca Willenbrink) and her late friend Jill (Alexandria Sweatt) in the Autoscribe, as they stay hot on the trail of the role of Erich Weiss, aka Harry Houdini, in the complicated background of the plot. Up until this point, it all seems part of Ludlow’s history, but we here learn that Houdini’s powers were greater than imagined, and include a near-immortality that enables him to take on other bodies and identities to extend his life. One of those lives turns out to have been Murray of the same Louisville magic shop that played such an important role a few chapters back. Houdini came here to keep an eye on Millie and Ludlow’s ancestors, including Bonnie Burke.

But if the end of the trail is Houdini, the final moments, in which Bonnie declares something of a crusade to track down even more of the truth, plays like the beginning of whole new chapter. It suggests that the full-length, one-evening iteration will promise something more than a regurgitation of the 10 chapters, and might even offer even more questions.

Zachary Burrell continues to be a marvelously evil Houdini, in distinct contrast to the historical figure, and Jessica May returns briefly as his wife, Bess. Becca Willenbrink, Alexandria Sweatt, Leah Roberts and Eli Keel remain on top of their game, and Erin Keane shows up playing herself in an illuminating radio broadcast, keeping it local. This is a Louisville play, which is not to say it couldn’t play elsewhere, just that it is satisfyingly born of our community.

The full production of The Stranger and Ludlow Quinn will play at The Baron’s Theatre on April 2, 4, 18, 19, 21

The Stranger and Ludlow Quinn, Chapter Ten: Houdini

March 7, 2014

Theatre [502]
The Baron’s Theatre
131 East Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202