An Exciting Erotic Thriller

 

By Patrick Hamilton

Presented July 2014

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In 1948, Alfred Hitchcock made a film version of the 1929 controversial thriller "Rope."  The play upon which the film was based was indeed very different from the Jimmy Stewart vehicle. Patrick Hamilton's play concerned two Gay college students who murder a handsome twenty year old fellow student simply to see if they can "pull-off" the perfect crime. But the play was not only controversial for it's gay sub-text. It also explored the mental state of England and Europe between the wars, a hedonistic, drug-riddled, experimental culture, determined to forget the past and not give a damn about the future. Hamilton's play questions the very value of human life itself in both wartime and in peace. The play is sensual, violent, witty, disturbing, and philosophical. It also introduces one of the most interesting and unique criminal investigators in all of literature, Rupert Cadell, an eccentric poet who was horribly disfigured in the trenches of the First World War. Rupert has the decadent ability to conceive of the most lurid and horrifying acts, but he draws the line at actually performing them...unlike our college lovers Brandon and Granillo. Brandon's sadistic control over Granillo leads the tender younger man down ever darkening alleys of sin and corrupiton. Recent productions of the play in England have in fact been quite shocking and outrageous. Thus, the perfect summer play for Dale Gutzman and Off The Wall Theatre.  The play begins with the murder of an innocent young man, seduced and lured to Brandon's flat. The body is then deposited in a trunk on which supper is served to the victim's unwitting father and friends. That's how the play starts! What comes after, well, it needs to be seen! 

Playing Brandon and Granillo were Jeremy C. Welter and Mark Neufang. Playing the war-wounded Rupert Cadell was Randall Anderson. Max Williamson played the very innocent and thus enticing Kenneth Raglan, and Alyssa Harold, a brand new and exciting young talent, played Leila Arden, a frantic young "anything Goes" flapper. Lawrence J. Lukasavage served up a tasty character as the father of the dead youth. Mark Ninneman and Sandy Lewis rounded out the cast as Sabot the servant and Mrs. Debenham, a tipsy gin swilling old maid. Dale Gutzman directed in a very very small space even for Off The Wall, the audience was literally sitting in the college boys' drawing room. The ever talented David Roper served as Technical Director. The talented Robb Preston served as Assistant to the Director. 

One interesting aspect of the show was the music. For a few years only, recording artists were forbidden to alter the gender of the subject in love songs...thus you had Bing Crosby singing "Gay Love" about a man, and big name male artists singing "Can't Help Loving That Man!" Gutzman unearthed and is using a number of these recordings in the show, as well as some gender bending '20's songs like "Masculine Women and Feminine Men!" 

Another unique theatre experience only at Off The Wall Theatre