Purple lights illuminated Charm City on the eve of the Ravens playoff game. Downtown in the cobblestone village of Fells Point, folks were celebrating in the streets as well inside the Vagabond Players, America’s oldest continuously operating little theater.
Indeed there was a lot to celebrate.
The Vagabond Players are presenting a work that’s rarely been seen anywhere and never been seen in Maryland. The late Ira Levin, author of award-winning plays, Deathtrap, among them, created Interlock, a psychological melodrama in 1958. This 2015 revival is directed with an assured grasp of the play’s twists and turns by pro Roy Hammond, who writes in the notes, “I hope Ira is looking down from the heavens, happy that I have successfully moved one step closer to fulfilling my promise to him, and that I’ve been given a chance to prove what he always wished – that Interlock could have and should have been a hit.”
Here is a work with that delights in varied characterizations with Mrs. Price (Laura Gifford) as the manipulative and overbearing mistress of her Manhattan mansion, a couple of years after World War II. Hilde (Karina Ferry) is gullible – you tend to root for her throughout the show. Paul (Rick Lyon-Vaiden) never got over his mommy complex, despite a few years in a German prison camp. Everett (Grant Chism) and Lucille (Lisa Walker) are secondary characters, a maid and butler, who, at times, seem more aware than their household guests. This is a talented cast and they all deliver terrific performances.
Sure, there are signs of a period piece in the writing of three-acts. Nonetheless, these are such interesting characters that the dated references are shrugged off and the intrigue remains.
And when you’re not totally involved in these, check out the fabulous set a la Americana in the early 20th century, especially the marble staircase. Director Roy Hammond is also credited as set designer. Charlie Danforth did the lighting and Sarah Kenrick designed the costumes – loved the pink satin gowns and oodles of jewels. As stage manager, Becky Miller kept things moving along at a brisk pace and the audience riveted in the 104-seated theater.
Note the highlighted suggestion at the bottom of the program, “We hope Interlock holds a few surprises for you and, if it does, we hope that you’ll help us keep them as surprises for future audiences.”
For this writer, the big mystery of Interlock is why after only four performances in 1958 did it close? Original cast members were Georgia Burke, Rosemary Harris, Celeste Holm, John Marriott, and Maxmillan Schell. That’s the real puzzle to be solved.
But you are very fortunate to have this rare opportunity to see Interlock – and you should!
Running time: Two and a half hours, including two-15 minute intermissions.