The Garden Theater, Winter Garden FL

There’s nothing worse than writing a hit; now everyone expects you to do that over and over. Sydney Brule (Lima) has that exact problem. His latest smash show closed, and now he’s in a dry spell. An over the transom play from his student Clifford (Roman) looks like a sure-fire hit, and he raises the possibility with his wife Myra (Walker) of killing Clifford to steal the script. She’s horrified, and when it appears Sydney will actually do this, her heart fails. Then physic Helga ten Dorp (Tatiana Sophie Eriksen) appears, makes several somewhat correct predictions, and then leaves. The game is a foot with crosses, double crosses, and double backflip triple summersault plot tricks. But this is a mystery, so I’ll leave the plot rest until you see it yourself.

Tonight Mr. Lima has many moments of not being scary at all, but they intermix with moment of incipient brutality that are his best points on stage. Innocent Ms. Gervais is the sad one here, she’s done nothing but support Sidney through thick and thin, and she provides the element of elegant sanity in this bouncing off the wall production. Ms. Eriksen’s psychic is played entirely for laughs; I suspect she would make my aura come out my nose if she ever “read” my palm. As the sneaky romantic lead Mr. Romano is cute enough for the illicit romance between he and his boss, but it’s the weakest plot point, not that it matters by the end. Lastly be have Bob Brandenburg appearing as Sydney, Bruhl’s lawyer. Even he gets in to the fun of trying to steal a scrip to make a fortune.

We all know the real money in theater comes from movie rights if you’re good enough, but this is a fun if dated romp. The set is packed with ominous swords, daggers, and sharp and pointy plot points. The twists come fast a furious, and it’s best to just lean back and let the show drag you hither and yon. It’s old school but fun school, and requires no complex analytical thought, just a good memory or good note taking skills.

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