Bella Manningham (Holly R. Bemis-Schurtz)
L to R: Bella Manningham (Holly R. Bemis-Schurtz) and Detective Rough (David Edwards)
L to R: Jack Manningham (Bob Diven) and Nancy (Laura Hagle)
L to R: Jack Manningham (Bob Diven), Nancy ( Laura Hagle), and Bella Manningham (Holly R. Bemis-Schurtz)
Elizabeth (Megan Walker)
Mar 30-Apr 08, 2001
'Angel Street' is heavenly
- By Cheryl Thornburg, Sun News C7 [Friday, March 30, 2001]
For those who are looking for polished and stylish entertainment, take a trip to "Angel Street," the latest production of the No Strings Theatre Company. The play, by British playwright Patrick Hamilton, has been around for almost 60 years, but it is as intriguing and full of suspense as when it first opened in December 1941.
The setting is Victorian England in a fine townhouse inhabited by the suave Jack Manningham, played by Bob Diven, and his seemingly fragile young wife, played by Holly Rae Bemis-Schurtz.
Manningham at times seems attentive and charming, at others controlling as he deals with his wife's problems. Diven, having demonstrated his aptitude for exuding continental charm as Baron Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music," seems well suited to the role and at home in the Victorian era. There's just enough mystery in his performance to make the audience wonder what he is up to.
Bemis-Schurtz, who played the spunky Maggie in Las Cruces Community Theatre's production of "Jake's Women" takes on an entirely different role as Mrs. Manningham, a sensitive, high-strung young woman intent on pleasing her husband. Her focused portrayal of the distraught, hand-wringing Bella who thinks she is going crazy is thoroughly convincing.
Enter Dave Edwards as Inspector Rough to save the day, or at least Bella's sanity.
Edwards uses both his dramatic and comedic skills as the fatherly detective who uncovers the sinister goings-on on Angel Street. His understated approach to the role adds warmth and comic relief.
Diven, Edwards and Bemis-Schurtz make a terrific trio, all contributing to the believability and enjoyability of the show. In addition they are supported by Megan Walker and Laura Hagle, the Manningham's maids, and Brian Wood and Armando Sarabia as Rough's cohorts.
On the surface, this is the most traditional play Ceil Herman has directed, but its underlying message about the plight of women in abusive situations certainly has contemporary implications.
The play has no foul language and the subject matter is suitable for all ages.
The set, designed by Peter Herman, is an ingenious combination of simplicity accented by carefully chosen pieces that evoke the opulence of the Victorian era. Classical music adds to the period ambience.
Meredith Loring's period costumes, particularly Bella's with its bustled skirt, complete the package and transport the audience 100 years back in time.
For those who remember the classic film, "Gaslight" with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, its predecessor "Angel Street" will seem very familiar, but there are differences between the play and the movie.
The intimacy and immediacy of this production reminds us of the unique bond between actors and audience that only exists in live theatre.
"Angel Street" continues today, Saturday and Sunday and April 5-8. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m., Thursdays and Sunday (April 1) performances are at 7 p.m. at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall.
The final performance will be a matinee on Sunday, April 8 at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $7 regular admission and $6 students/seniors (over 65). Thursday night is bargain night with all seats $5.
For reservations call (505)-523-1223 or on-line at www.zianet.com/nstcbbt.
No seating plan has been posted.