BWW Review: THE PSYCHIC Offers Plenty of Comedy, Mystery, Murder and Mayhem

BWW Review: THE PSYCHIC Offers Plenty of Comedy, Mystery, Murder and Mayhem

The ELATE theatre company is a ministry of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in North Hollywood whose purpose is to provide entertainment, fellowship and community outreach through the performing arts. ELATE's latest production was the 2010 mystery-comedy THE PSYCHIC by Sam Bobrick, a playwright who began his career writing for the children's show Captain Kangaroo, going on to write for The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, The Flintstones, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour before creating the long-running NBC series Saved by the Bell He has also written over thirty plays, four of which ran on Broadway, most notably Norman, Is That You?

Even though ELATE's production of THE PSYCHIC recently ended its too-short three-week run on August 26, 2018, I wanted to share my thoughts about the production since ELATE deserves more attention from the L.A. theatre community at their performance space, BWW Review: THE PSYCHIC Offers Plenty of Comedy, Mystery, Murder and MayhemThe Lincoln Stegman Theatre at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 6020 Radford Avenue, North Hollywood.

THE PSYCHIC takes place in the New York City basement apartment of down-on-his-luck writer wannabe Adam Webster, making the basement location of the theater a perfect place to stage this show. As you walk down the staircase, be sure to notice all the posters which decorate the walls to get an idea of all the great plays staged there. And as soon as you enter, I am sure your eyes will gravitate to the film noir posters which decorate Webster's brick-walled apartment.

Struggling to pay the rent, BWW Review: THE PSYCHIC Offers Plenty of Comedy, Mystery, Murder and MayhemAdam (Brian Patrick Roach) has put up a sign offering "Psychic Readings $25" to save himself from being thrown out on the street. And even though he has never had any psychic abilities nor done any type of reading before, several interesting characters show up, each offering decorating tips before paying the fee, expecting to find out something about themselves. From the beginning, it was pretty clear to me that the visitors would turn out to be characters being born in Adam's laptop, very stereotypical of the types of people they were playing. But it was easy to play along and watch the story in his mind play out onstage.

BWW Review: THE PSYCHIC Offers Plenty of Comedy, Mystery, Murder and MayhemThe sign brings a typical murder mystery assortment of characters to his door, including the lovely and conflicted Laura Benson wife (Carla Betz), her shady husband Roy (Tom Reilly), Roy's gorgeous mistress, Rita Malone (Charlotte Roi in a great Jessica Rabbit dress), a gangster named Johnny Bubbles (Jeff Zimmer looking as if he just stepped out of Guys and Dolls), and ace Detective Norris Coslow (Jeff Carpenter) resembling characters right out of NYPD Blue. And how these characters are woven together in Adam's evolving story is the plotline of the play.

Directed by Stanley Brown with a thorough understanding of how film noir murder mysteries evolve, we learn of the typical story of a wife convinced her husband is planning to murder her so he can inherit the insurance money BWW Review: THE PSYCHIC Offers Plenty of Comedy, Mystery, Murder and Mayhemand run off with his sexy mistress. But unknown to him, the mistress also has other men pursuing her, one of which is a violent gangster who would think nothing of murdering anyone in his way, especially the husband once he finds out they are both in love with the same bombshell redhead. Soon many wind up murdered, with their bodies left in the trunk of abandoned cars in the writer's neighborhood. So of course, a knowledgeable Detective shows up to ask the writer to assist him in figuring out whodunit. In the surprising twists that follow, Adam finds himself involved in a hilarious murder mystery playing out in front of him as he attempts to write it at the same time.

All of the actors certainly played up their BWW Review: THE PSYCHIC Offers Plenty of Comedy, Mystery, Murder and Mayhemstereotypical characters to the max, strutting their stuff with great authority to the point of great laughter from the audience. This was especially true for Rite and Johnny, the gangster and his moll who could have walked out of such classics as "Some Like it Hot" or "Gilda." But that made it all the more fun for me, as did the running gag of each character giving Adam suggestions on how to decorate his place before any other conversations took place between them.

Brian Patrick Roach handled the lead role with enough over-the-top believability at first to allow the audience to think he may have been the murderer himself. And as you being to suspect each of the other characters, they are murdered off, BWW Review: THE PSYCHIC Offers Plenty of Comedy, Mystery, Murder and Mayhemleaving the Detective, Laura and Adam to act out possible scenarios on the real culprit. That particular scene was the funniest in the show! And Jamie Hitchcock's lighting design certainly made it known when Adam was making a "psychic" prediction each time the stage darkened and a spotlight focused on the writer as if a lightbulb just went off in his head for his next plot point.

THE PSYCHIC has enough comedy, mystery and mayhem to please many different types of theatre goers. BWW Review: THE PSYCHIC Offers Plenty of Comedy, Mystery, Murder and MayhemAnd given the quality of the ELATE production and low cost of $12 for adults and $10 per seniors and students, I am sure once word gets outs that future shows will sell out.

For more information about upcoming productions, call (818) 509-0882 or visit ELATE's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ELATEtheatre

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