‘LAURA’ AT THEATRE FORTY’
The epitome of ensemble acting has been reached with the production of ‘Laura’ which is currently being offered at the Theatre Forty inBeverly Hills.
Based on the 1944 motion picture of the same name, this show has been pared down to it’s bare essentials, reducing to a minimum the various plot twists, to explore more fully the dynamics existing between the cast members. It does a superlative job as a result of this approach.
The deceptively leisurely pace at the outset and its light, casual ambience only
serve to heighten the suspense, leaving the audience unaware of the gradual buildup. Everything logically falls into place as the plot unfolds. The dialogue is brittle and caustic as the cast play off each other with aplomb and style. The acting is masterful and precise.
Julie Lancaster as Laura is sure footed in her interpretation of the role as she insinuates herself into the lives of the three gentlemen she’s involved with. She fascinates and intrigues as she reacts to all the developments that surround her.
Grinnell Morris plays it straight but artfully as the detective Mark McPherson as he slowly finds himself more and more involved with this woman as the facts reveal themselves. Robert Mackenzie probably has the most challenging part as he delineates the role of Waldo Lydecker, so well brought to the screen by Clifton Webb. It’s a tough act to follow but Mackenzie manages quite well as he mingles duplicity with incisiveness to bring to life this difficult part.
The rest of the cast congeals effectively to augment the proceedings to bring it all to a satisfactory conclusion. Gail Johnston gives a special touch as the maid Bessie,
Blake Boyd exudes extraordinary patience and forbearance as Shelby Carpenter. Laura’s fiancé and Rhonda Lord lends her brief but effervescent support as Mrs. Dorgan. Not to be left out is Jonathan Baron, playing the young Danny Dorgan, who’s attachment to Laura bring him little resolution.
Credit certainly goes to David McClendon who directs to bring all the elements together in the best possible way. Laura was written by Vera Caspar and George Sklar. David Hunt Stafford produced the piece.
Mention must also be made of Jeff G. Black’s intriguing set design and the overall spacious design of the stage.
Laura runs through April 29, with peformances Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sundays at 2. 310,364.0535 www.theatre40.org.
The theatre is at241 S. Moreno DriveinBeverly Hills.