BWW Review: DOUBLE IDEMNITY at Asolo Repertory Theatre
Fans of the haunting film noir classic DOUBLE IDEMNITY starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson would come to expect that same eerie feel in David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright's stage adaptation of James M. Cain's crime novella that was the source of inspiration for the film. FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training came through with placing the audience in the zone via Steven Kemp's staging of large-scale mobile walls and Michael Pasquini cabalistic lighting effects on a "grayscale" stage. The opening feel was dark and mysterious and set the tone for what was to come. Unfortunately that is where the mood that was supposed to draw us in abruptly ended.
This story is about a conniving woman Phyllis Nirlinger (Kate Cunningham) who plots to kill her husband Herbert (Don Walker) with the keen assistance of her husband's insurance rep Walter Huff (Erik Meixelsperger. He is savvy enough to know how to bring this collusive plot to fruition with a big pay out through a double indemnity policy. She is sultry enough to seduce him into believing they can be together and share the wealth.
For the characters, in order to risk it all on both sides, and for the audience to buy in to the storyline, there needs to be some passion, some connection, some devotion. Instead, the cool overtones that made for perfect staging cast a shadow of aloofness and indifference between Phyllis and Walter. Throughout the production their characters appear more bored with life than in love with each other. In one scene there's a hint that Walter may be falling for Herbert's grieving daughter Lola (Sara Linares). She and Walter's boss, Keyes, (Douglas Jones) maintain believability in their roles. Mr. Meixelsperger delivers more monotone dialogue than intriguing discourse. Miss Cunningham cannot fully portray the allure she can bring to this role only because of the cold fish overlay that perhaps tight direction has placed on her character.
As the plot twists and turns and the evil deed is done, we are drawn in for a short period of time again to see if Walter's discerning boss will catch any flaws in this insurance scam. Can they get away with this? You will have to come and see.
The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training is pleased to announce the inaugural season of DOG DAYS THEATRE premiering in the summer of 2017. This exciting new professional company is devoted to the production of modern plays perfectly suited to the dog days of summer. With a company made up of professional actors from the area and around the country along with students training at the Conservatory, and the highest quality directors and designers, DOG DAYS THEATRE promises to an exciting new part of the Sarasota arts community. For more information visit, www.asolorep.org/dogdays
The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training is a celebrated three-year graduate program culminating in a master of fine arts degree. For more than 35 years, tens of thousands of actors from across the continent have auditioned for admission. A maximum of 12 students are admitted each year. In their second year, the students perform in the Cook Theatre, a 161-seat space designed to create an intimate experience for the audience and actors. Third-year students are seen on the Mertz Stage working with the Asolo Rep's professional actors in exciting and significant roles. For more information, visit http://www.asolorep.org/conservatory/welcome