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BWW Reviews: Not Happily Ever After: INTERLOCK

Though he passed in 2007, the works of writer Ira Levin continue to resonate. His play, "Deathtrap," remains the longest running comedy thriller on Broadway, and his novels, Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives became cult-classic films. But chances are, you haven't heard of his play, "Interlock"...and that's a shame.

One of Levin's first plays, Interlock debuted in 1958 and "floundered," as the play program notes. The plot of this three-act, two-intermission play which comes in at about two hours and 30 minutes, is simple. A young woman, engaged to an aspiring pianist, serves as companion to a very wealthy, wheelchair-bound lady. In hopes the lady will become her fiancée's patron, she introduces him. And then things start to get interesting.

The play unfolds in the music room of Mrs. Price (Laura Gifford), the aforementioned lady of wealth, in New York City, set just after World War II. Hilde, the young female companion, is played by Karina Ferry, who portrays Hilde as good-hearted, if slightly naïve, with a strong desire to see the best in all those around her. It's a character that undoubtedly resonates with Ms. Ferry, who also played set-upon heroine Bella in the psychological drama, "Gaslight," at Baltimore's Spotlighters Theater in 2010.

Rick Lyon-Vaiden is Paul, a recent immigrant from Germany and survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. Lyon-Vaiden's body language might be called the (stereo)-typically Germanic male, that is, upright, head back, and proud...but is, at his center, malleable as bread dough--appropriate as he toils in a bakery.

In Paul, Levin has crafted in intriguing character who, like Hilde, undergoes a metamorphosis in the presence of master manipulator Mrs. Price, played pitch-perfect by veteran actress Laura Gifford. While Paul at first has no interest in Mrs. Price's "charity," he falls prey to her sophistry, as it becomes quickly apparent that Mrs. Price has designs on the young musician.

Born into a wealthy family himself, Paul is drawn to Mrs. Price, a mirror image of his mother (dubbed "the Ice Queen" by Paul's father) and their relationship becomes almost Oedipal in nature. In the final act, there's a scene where one can see a piece of sheet music among Paul's belongings. The piece is entitled, "The Student Prince," and that is exactly what Paul is-an eternal student, both of music and of life, and a would-be prince who must decide between life in the ivory tower or his soul.

Gifford is stellar in her portrayal of a wolf in invalid's clothing, playing the sympathy card for all its worth as she pulls in Paul while pushing out Hilde. From the audience, she manages to evoke laughs, sympathy, and anger in her performance of a woman who today would likely be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Rounding out the ensemble are Lisa Walker as Lucille and Grant Chism as Everett, Mrs. Price's long-time servants who make the most of rather small support roles. Lucille is Ms. Walker's acting debut; she plays well the part of a favored servant who now feels displaced by Hilde's presence. While Lucille is willing to excuse her employer's "meanness," one senses in Chism's tone and body language that he is not as forgiving and bears more sympathy for Hilde, herself a one-time servant in Paul's family home.

"Interlock" is kind of twisted take on Cinderella, with Hilde in the title role, Mrs. Price as a combination fairy-godmother-AND-evil-stepmother, and Paul, a less than charming prince. Perhaps this was too much for a Cold War-era audience to appreciate. But please do appreciate it, as director Roy Hammond's "Interlock" runs through February 8th.

Show-times are 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. There will be a special $10 performance on Thursday, Feb. 5th at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $10-$20 with special rates for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more. TheVagabond Players theater is located at 806 S. Broadway in Fells Point. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 410-563-9135.

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From This Author Daniel Collins