Review: ‘An Act of the Imagination’ at Bowie Community Theatre

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Bowie Community Theatre presents An Act of the Imagination by Bernard Slade, and directed by Patrick Gorirossi. Roger Paradis’ eclectic set design is full of symbolism that ties into the plotline. It’s a symmetrical combination living room/study in the house of the lead character Arthur Putnam. Upstage center are French doors dressed in white lace that seem representative of an altar, yet stage right and left, the door frames are coffin-shape. The walls are a deep red with brown wainscoting that compliments the period furniture. There is a small bar cart and a telephone table but the true feature is the stone fireplace.

Steve Rosenthal and Kathryn Barrett-Gaines. Photo by Andrew Culhane.
Steve Rosenthal and Kathryn Barrett-Gaines. Photo by Andrew Culhane.

Arthur Putnam (Steve Rosenthal) is a successful writer who is attempting to write a graphic and adulterous romance novel. This is an odd departure from his regular genre – mysteries – but he is an eccentric and demonstrates it so well with his rambling words that do not seem to make sense until he’s done saying what he has to say. Rosenthal displays all the jitteriness and forgetfulness perfectly in his terrific performance. And how convenient to be so forgetful when murder comes into play!

Julia Putnam (Kathryn Barrett-Gaines) is Arthur’s second wife and she too seems jittery with her constant straightening the living room pillows, blanket, and fussing with a basket of flowers. She does dote on her husband but their relationship doesn’t seem to be a strong one. The characters do not share much chemistry and when they carry on a conversation, they talk to each other, but neither really seems to hear one another. Kudos to Barrett-Gaines on her fine performance and working through some vocal challenges during the performance.

Simon Putnam (Larry Griffin) comes across as astute and clever. His relationship with his father is a bit estranged and he and Arthur are choreographed that way, with a considerable amount of distance between them. Griffin really sparks with Barrett-Gaines. Their affection for one another adds to the plotline as Simon believes their plan is full-proof.

Brenda Simmons (Rebecca Feibel-Kotraba) is a force to be reckoned with – with her Romanesque physique, fiery red hair, and Cockney accent. This character bursts onto the scene to offer a confession and alibi for Arthur but there is more to Brenda. Feibel-Kotraba delivers a spirited performance.

Holly Adams (Lauren Moses) is Arthur’s editor. Moses is poised and sophisticated in this role with both her words and how she carries herself. Taken by Arthur’s new mystery, Holly is loyal to him, even when he runs into trouble.

Detective Burchitt, played convincingly by Terry Averill, is smart as he deciphers the whodunit. As the plot thickens, the detective is concise with his questions, yet maintains a level of complexity and respect toward Arthur. Detective Burchitt’s cleverness offers a good plot twist but still has the audience wondering to the very end.

 Kathryn Barrett-Gaines and Larry Griffin. Photo by Andrew Culhane.
Kathryn Barrett-Gaines and Larry Griffin. Photo by Andrew Culhane.

Costume Designer Jeane Binney keeps the costuming tight and neutral as Julia first appears on stage in a lovely black and white sundress. Julia then dons a white dress with black polka-dots and later wears a black summer suit. Brenda’s dress is a stunning black strapless that is accented by a black scarf, dark sunglasses, and black spiked heels. Holly is cute in her navy blue dress with white polka-dots and white chunky white heels.

The men are mostly dressed in varying shades of beige. Simon looks smart in this argyle sweater whereas Arthur is layered in a vest and jacket. The detective dons a neutral colored suit as well. Lighting Designer Garrett Hyde and Sound Designers Patrick Gorirossi and Walt Kleinfelder, along with the Production Staff, bring together the technical aspects with great detail.

A stylish and clever work, An Act of the Imagination is entertaining with its rich dialogue and character dynamics. This show is a whodunit with a series of plot twists that will keep one guessing until the end.

Running Time: 2 hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

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 An Act of Imagination is playing now through March 20, 2016, at Bowie Community Theatre performing at Bowie Playhouse -16500 White Marsh Park Drive, in Bowie, MD. For tickets, call (301) 805-0219, or purchase them online.

RATING: FOUR-AND-A-HALF-STARS11.gif