The setting is mysterious, the music is strange, and the lighting is ominous. This is what one will experience when attending Bowie Community Theatre’ Night Watch, a murder mystery by Lucille Fletcher. Produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc, Night Watch is directed by Randy Barth and produced by Andrew Negri.
Elaine Wheeler cannot sleep. She is troubled by hazy fears. Elaine’s terror grows as she witnesses a murder. After several “crying wolf” calls to the police and a visit from a psychiatrist, Elaine is losing her mind. Or is she?
Katie Wanschura (Elaine Wheeler) gives a riveting performance as the “seeing-things” wife who sees things that just aren’t there. In a Hitchcockian way, reminiscent of Rear Window, Elaine is paranoid. Her madness is demonstrated with a shaky voice, obsessive behavior, and twisted words.
Scott Beadle (John Wheeler) is Elaine’s doting husband. Yes, he is dealing with Elaine’s embarrassing behavior but he is a strong character that can deal with his wife’s histrionics. On stage, Wanschura and Beadle have clashing personalities. As Elaine’s suspicion escalates, so do John’s frustrations and playing that off each other makes them good actors.
Nina Harris (Helga) eavesdrops and is not shy about it either. Long before Elaine married John, there was Helga and her loyalties are to Elaine Wheeler. Harris offers comic relief – her character does not like Blanche. She is suspicious and she’ll march across the room, give a “hmph,” turn her chin up and continue to storm off.
Terra Elaine Vigil-Wynn (Blanche), who is staying with the Wheelers, proclaims that she is Elaine’s best friend, but her intentions are elsewhere. She’s a fake – as in phony. Nurses do not have fancy dresses like Blanche does. She seems to house-hop from friend to friend: Blanche is more of a gold digger than a friend. How convenient it is that she is a nurse; telling her friend to take a pill – practically forcing her. Vigil-Wynn is charming. She is poised and remains composed through several challenging scenes.
Rob Allen (Curtis Appleby) is the Wheeler’s flamboyant neighbor, who offers a bit of comic relief amid all the suspense. He has a new hobby that just happens to be murder. He is creepy enough to make audiences wonder what his motives are. Allen plays the character like one of those guys who mangles his hands, is slightly hunched, and has this wicked sinister laugh. You know he’s up to something, but what it is, one can only guess.
John “Jack” Degnan (Patrolman Vanelli) is a portrayed as a stereotypical patrolman, which is why it seems out of place when he mentions the Wheeler’s paintings. These are top-notch originals and he is tried and true – a man of the blue.
Ken Kienas (Lieutenant Walker) is a hard-core police lieutenant with this terse language and not-so-friendly actions. His movement is brusque and he if fed up with Mrs. Wheeler’s antics. He talks with a New York accent and is frumpy in his over-sized trench coat. Kienas gives a convincing performance.
Joanne Bauer (Dr. Tracey Lake) is prim and proper as the psychiatrist and is only interested in accomplishing her job. Desensitizing herself from the real issue, Dr. Lake wants to get Elaine committed as soon as possible. Bauer gives a good performance by treating Elaine Wheeler with kindness and intensions are good.
Jim Pasquale (Sam Hoke) is angry with the fact that Mrs. Wheeler is constantly calling the police. He owns the deli in the building across the street and “it’s just isn’t good for business.”
Set Designer, Terry Averill offers a high-end townhouse that is decorated with a Matisse and a Picasso. There is a sofa, a wing-back chair and the cabinet, which has lovely flowers. Lighting Designer, Garrett Hyde uses the lighting to enhance the time of day back into night. While Sound Designers, Bob Morris and Denny Giblin heighten the sound that emphasized outside noises like sirens and a care pulling up to the drive.
Costume Designer Valerie Mikles’ costumes are also high-end. Elaine and Blanche both wear silk night gowns and robes, and during the evening hours they are dresses more formal wear. Helga dresses in a maid’s uniform that is prim and proper. John starts out wearing a robe then changes into trousers, shirt and lose tie.
Night Watch is full of plot twists and turns that will surprise you. Go see it!
Running Time: Two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.
Night Watch plays through March 26, 2017, 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.