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New Jersey by Bob Rendell

Dangerous Obsession: Mystery-Thriller for a Summer Night

Also see Bob's review of The Last Fall

Deadly Obsession
Lisa Gunn, Christopher Yates and Paul Mantell
Dangerous Obsession, a formulaic mystery-thriller by late British author N.J. Crisp, literately encompasses the conventions of its genre.

It is late afternoon. A stranger pushes himself into the very comfortable home of Mark and Sally Driscoll. His name is John Barrett and he reminds the home-alone Sally of their having met on a resort vacation which, having been drunk, she can barely remember. In short order, Mark returns home and Barrett plies the couple with a tale of woe, saying that he waited too long to have children because several weeks earlier his wife was the victim of an auto accident. After thirty minutes of John's insistent, overbearing behavior, Mark may well be speaking for the viewer, when he says, "What do you want? We have had enough of your long winded crap." Mark then orders Barrett from the house. Barrett pulls out a revolver, fires a couple of shots to terrorize Mark and Sally before finally getting down to business just before the intermission of this two act, one scene play.

In the second act, it is interesting to observe Crisp's artful, albeit artificial, engineering in parceling out information to "surprise" us and change our perceptions of the stick figure protagonists. Unfortunately, Barrett's ultimate actions undermine his actions and attitude throughout the rest of the play.

Eric Peterson's slack direction seems uncertain as to whether or not he intends his production to be a comedy mystery thriller. Paul Mantell (Barrett) builds up a nice sense of menace and Lisa Gunn (Sally) and Christopher Yates (Mark) are certainly competent; still, the play requires more conviction than it receives in this production.

Although Dangerous Obsession dully dawdles for about thirty minutes setting up its situation, when gets down to business, it provides a tense situation and an audience-pleasing series of revelations.

Dangerous Obsession continues performances (Thursday 2 pm/ Friday & Saturday 8 pm/ Sunday 2 pm) through May 23, 2010 at the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, New Jersey. Box Office: 973-971-3706; online: www.bickfordtheatre.org.

Dangerous Obsession by N.J. Crisp; directed by Eric Peterson

Cast
Sally Driscoll.........................Lisa Gunn
John Barrett.......................Paul Mantell
Mark Driscoll.............Christopher Yates


Photo: Warren Westura


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- Bob Rendell



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