Review: ‘Absolutely Dead’ at Bowie Community Theatre

Absolutely Dead, written by Michael Walker and directed at Bowie Community Theatre by Ken Kienas, is a charming and hilarious dark comedy centered around a murder mystery.

Maddi Stanton (Alice) and Drew Sharpe (Jon), Photography courtesy of John Cholod.

I’m afraid to give away too much of the plot, but I feel it’s safe to say it revolves around the murder of a tech executive and the responses of his family and friends. This story takes us to an island off the coast of Maine and is set on the evening of Jack Morgan’s retirement party. Bob Cohen is a convincing Jack and is especially gifted at interactions with his wife Ruth (Terri Laurino) and his son Jon (Drew Sharpe). Laurino excels in portraying the long-suffering Ruth, while Sharpe—who is a Junior at Annapolis High School when he’s not on stage—brings life to Jon with a talent that surpasses his youth.

Joining the family on the rainy night of the murder is Jack’s business partner Colin Ashcroft (Glenn Singer) and his actress wife Susan (Barbara Webber). Singer brings a pathos and mystery to his role that contrasts with Webber’s lighthearted portrayal of his flighty wife. Webber has excellent comedic timing. It serves her well in this role that asks her to make light of a serious situation.

Maddi Stanton (Alice), Drew Sharpe (Jon), Bill Fellows (Ben), Bob Cohen (Jack) and Barbara Webber (Susan), photography courtesy of John Cholod.

Then we have neighbors Ben Martin (Bill Fellows) and his daughter Alice (Maddi Stanton). Fellows makes Ben a believable everyman, whose family tragedy manages to touch the majority of the cast. Stanton enthusiastically portrays his ambitious daughter. Her budding romance with Jon provides a nice centerpiece for the work. Stanton has one of the more difficult roles, which perfectly displays the range of her acting talent.

Rounding out the cast we have Nate (Peter Eglitis), a local police officer whose appearances add tension to the work at just the right moments.

Since the play takes place entirely in one location—Jack and Ruth’s home—perfecting the set was critical. Set Designer Dan Lavanga and Set Dressers Jeanne Louise and Malia Murray did a fantastic job of bringing the New England home to life. The action occurs on a “dark and stormy night”, Sound Designer Penny Martin and Lighting Designer Garrett Hyde are also to be commended on their additions, which make the storm outside seem larger than life.

Peter Eglitis (Nate), Terri Laurino (Ruth), Drew Sharpe (Jon), Maddi Stanton (Alice) and Bob Cohen (Jack), photography courtesy of John Cholod.

The cast and crew of Bowie Community Theatre do an admirable job of bringing this uproariously funny dark comedy to life. Though Absolutely Dead will thrill fans of murder mysteries, it has a little something for everyone. The plot twist at the end is a real shocker and makes it well worth the time spent watching the lives of these characters unravel.

Running Time: Two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

Absolutely Dead runs through July 28, 2019, at Bowie Community Theatre at Bowie Playhouse—16500 White Marsh Park Drive, Bowie, MD. Tickets can be purchased online.

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