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Theater review: ‘Night Watch’

By JACK FELIX

Sun-Gazette Correspondent

SELINSGROVE — Did the lady actually see two murdered corpses in the window of the nearby deserted building? Or is she really completely unhinged?

These are the questions which the Valley Players answer in their current production “Night Watch.” Those wanting to watch “Night Watch” have 7 p.m. performances Friday and Saturday and a 2 p.m. finale on Sunday at the Courtyard Theater, 1 Susquehanna Valley Mall Drive.

Playwright Lucille Fletcher, best known for the 1940’s thriller “Sorry, Wrong Number,” sets this drama in the luxurious New York townhouse of John and Elaine Wheeler in the mid-1970s.

Elaine has been suffering from insomnia and struggling with mental illness after witnessing her first husband killed in a car accident with his paramour at his side. Now the wife of the rich investment broker, peering out of her window, she claims to see a body of a man in the building next door. Her husband John, friend Blanche and cook Helga are concerned, but after the cops are called, nothing is found. With no proof, the police are reluctant to respond when Elaine screams a second time, now claiming that she also has seen a dead woman’s body.

After a psychiatrist is consulted and Elaine agrees to travel to another country for treatment, there is a flurry of accusations on the evening of her departure, leading to a very unexpected ending.

Chris Reis makes his directorial debut in the fast moving drama played in two acts. Although some of the setup is a bit familiar, the final few tension-filled moments raise the script to very entertaining level.

Heading the Valley Players’ cast is Sandie Fairman as the beleaguered Elaine, who manages to lock the audience into the mystery with her highly effective performance.

Brad Wakeman plays her husband John, with Natasha Simeonoff as Elaine’s nurse Blanche, who likely is John’s love interest as well.

In a variety of colorful outfits, Bob Taylor brings a light hearted touch as the flamboyant neighbor Appleby. Fred Hooper (with a possible nod to the detective Colu­­mbo su­cking on a lollipop) investigates as the caustic cop Lt. Walker.

Joanne Shroyer plays Helga the cook, and Lizz Hendricks is the psychiatrist Dr. Lake.

Although the limited lighting may somewhat affect the atmosphere as the drama reaches the climax, the overall set design and decoration is top-notch.

There is genuine suspense as Fairman surprisingly exposes Elaine’s motivations. For most of the audience, this revelation whether Elaine is indeed crazy or simply cunningly cool delivers a nice jolt. “Night Watch” is definitely worth watching.

Tickets are available by calling 570-374-0060 or at the door half an hour before curtain.

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