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BWW Review: BWW Suggests You Avoid This DANGEROUS CORNER

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J.B Priestley's DANGERUOUS CORNER is the season opener at 2nd Story Theater in Warren, and I have to say I was disappointed. Theater requires a "willing suspension of disbelief," to steal a phrase from William Taylor Coleridge, and this production did not facilitate that end. Trevor Elliot's set was fine, some truly beautiful art deco chairs stage left, very cool wall decorations, and a baby grand stage right. Ron Cesario's costumes-black tie for the men, elegant gowns for the women, also looked good on the actors. The actors-ah, there's the rub. Two members of the ensemble-Tania Montenegro as Freda and Wayne Kneeland as her husband Robert-repeatedly neglected Spencer Tracey's dictum that an actor should "know his lines and not bump into the furniture." While the furniture was safe, these two stumbled over lines several times, and each time stole a bit of my "willing suspension."

The play itself has a problem in that the characters were unlikeable. This was not all the fault of the actors, but rather seemed to reflect Priestley's view of them. The characters are all upper crust, and Priestley's horrific experiences in the trenches in WWI understandably colored his view of the upper class. Additionally, this play is set in England in 1932-two years into the Great Depression-and their lives seem blissfully unaffected. They seemed vapid and empty, but that's the way he wrote them. I think this also made it difficult to care about these people and their problems.

This is not to say that DANGEROUS CORNER does not have its moments. Kneeland got some big laughs with his character's complete obliviousness. Louis Astudillo had a kind of young Peter Lorre thing going on with his portrayal of Miguel Alonzo. I believed both Lian-Maie Munro and Nicholas Thibeault as the Whitehouses, both in their masked and unmasked states. Tanya Anderson's character, Olwen Peel, was secretly in love with Robert, and you sort of had to wonder why. Ah well, "the heart has reasons . . ." The play also raises some questions about the Socratic notion that the "unexamined life is not worth living." Priestley offers us two versions of reality-one in which his characters examine their lives and one in which they don't. It's hard to tell when they're better off.

2nd Story Theater is located at 28 Market Street in Warren, RI. DANGEROUS CORNER runs through October 18. It is performed in eighty minutes without intermission. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:30. Tickets are $30.00, $20.00 for those twenty-one and under. The theater can be reached at 401 247 4200 or at 2ndStoryTheater.com. 2nd Story is handicapped accessible and has a lovely accessible bathroom. There was lunar eclipse the night we went; maybe they arrange that for all performances.


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