`Night Watch' is a play of twists

Production: Bowie Community Theatre will present three weekends of a thriller set in mid-Manhattan featuring a large cast of assorted characters.

February 03, 2000|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Bowie Community Theatre's presentation of Lucille Fletcher's "Night Watch," a thriller that takes unexpected twists and turns, starts tomorrow at Bowie Playhouse in Whitemarsh Park.

First presented in February 1972 at the Moresco Theater in New York, "Night Watch" is set in mid-Manhattan's East 30s. There, in an elegant, remodeled brownstone, the well-to-do couple, John and Elaine Wheeler, look out from the enormous window of their sitting room onto an abandoned tenement building across the way.

Through the window, Elaine, a wealthy modern-art collector, sees a dead man in the building across the way; later, she sees a dead woman in the same place.

Has she really seen these dead people across the way, or is she confused?

In a twisting plot, things are seldom what they seem.

In a situation reminiscent of the movie "Rear Window," Elaine looks for validation, and when it is not forthcoming, questions her sanity.

Neither the police nor anyone else has seen anything to substantiate Elaine's story. If Elaine saw bodies, what happened to them?

She is surrounded by an interesting cast of characters. First is her successful husband of several years, image-conscious John, who deals with all problems quickly and logically. Dismissive of his wife's story, he is exasperated by her insistence about what she has seen.

Blanche Cooke is a houseguest in the Wheeler townhouse, and is concerned about the mental health of Elaine, her best friend.

Also part of the home scene is Helga, who was Elaine's maid for years before the Wheelers were married and seems loyal to her mistress and distrustful of John.

Eccentric neighbor Curtis Appleby is curious about what goes on in the Wheeler home, and is especially fascinated by the subject of murder, a fascination that has become a hobby.

Psychiatrist Tracey Lake observes Elaine clinically, trying to gain her confidence. Unimpressed by the couple's status and wealth, homicide detective lieutenant Walker is concerned only with doing his job.

Streetwise patrolman Vanelli is impressed by the Wheelers' art collection. Delicatessen owner Sam Hoke is observant and defensive.

The interaction between the assortment of characters should keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

Helping the suspense is a first-rate cast, featuring Janice Coffey as Elaine Wheeler and Mike Dunlop as John Wheeler. Others in the cast include Kimberly Fizdale as Helga, Larry Berlin as Vanelli, Ken Sabel as Appleby, Juliette Pahl as Cooke, Zareh Mozian as Walker, Lindra Best as Lake, and John Malloy as Hoke.

These actors should be able to bring this suspense thriller to life while keeping the audience guessing about their motivations and what is real.

"Night Watch" runs on weekends through Feb. 19, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Call the theater at 301-805-0219 to order tickets. Bowie Playhouse is in Whitemarsh Park at Routes 3 and 450.

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