Feagler (left), Dennis Runkle and Jenifer Warren act out a scene
from “Nightmare,” which runs through Oct. 7. (Photo courtesy
of Clague Playhouse)
‘Nightmare’ is Agatha Christie’s Twisted Sister
By Art Thomas
Published Sept. 26, 2007
Playhouse is currently presenting “Nightmare,” a semi-contemporary
mystery in the tradition of Agatha Christie. Well, there’s no police
inspector conducting lengthy interviews, but the play is British
and very talky.
Marion Bishop is growing weaker by the day in her
isolated house in rural England. Is her food being tampered with?
Is her physician perhaps named in the will? Why has her obnoxious
nephew suddenly come to visit?
The relationships are complex. Eventually, what is
probably a murder occurs. The circle of clues and suspicions grows
larger with each passing scene, and eventually there are surprises…some
left for the final 90 seconds of the play.
Writer Marion Bishop, as played by Zoe Harper, is
distracted. She can’t concentrate on her writing for any number
of reasons. Harper’s skill is at work in this role, which becomes
more layered as the play progresses.
Elaine Feagler is the apparently helpful new caretaker,
Katherine Willis. Her slow-witted brother, Michael, may or may not
be a key player in the mysterious phone calls that seem to come
at all hours to the Bishop home. Eric Fancher takes this role.
Neil Donnelly as the greedy nephew Raymond Shapley,
Dennis Runkle as Dr. Thorne, and Jenifer Warren as helpful Laura
Vinnecombe complete the cast.
The Clague production is aptly directed by Ron Newell,
who also designed the imaginative set.
It’s cluttered with the intriguing types of things you would
find in an elderly writer’s home. The cast work well individually
and as an ensemble. Lance Switzer’s lighting design is good, and
Kimberly Castle’s costumes effectively place the play in the 1980s.
“Nightmare” is the type of play that Clague does so
well with; the small cast and intricate plot are well suited to
the space and audience. “Nightmare” could do with a lot of trimming;
audiences would be much happier with 30 minutes cut from the overly-wordy
On opening night, engaged audience members at intermission
exchanged theories about what the reality was and who was fooling
who in the story. They returned to an excruciatingly long second
act — probably acts II and III combined.
“Nightmare” is a play with deceit and intrigue. There’s
extreme violence, but it’s not shown on stage. In short, the play
is suitable for everyone. “Nightmare” runs through October 7.
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