“Angel Street” by Patrick Hamilton is a taut Victorian Thriller in a Brown County Playhouse production that simply exudes quality in every aspect.
Director Bill Kincaid’s so skillfully paces the actors through the plot that my attention never wavered for the full three acts. Van Tinkham’s single set of an 1880s living room for the house in the Pimlico district of London on Angel Street, was perfect. There was all that overstuffed but uncomfortable looking furniture along with the fussy busy décor. Mary Grusak’s costumes for “Angel Street,” spoke volumes about each character. There was the confining elegance of the trapped heroine’s gown. The villain’s dark suits were classy, but they had a sleek almost snake like quality. The hero, the dogged bluff police detective, wore looser outfits in rough browns. Throughout Marie Shakespeare’s lighting both illuminated and dramatized the action.
Throughout the show, the level of acting was excellent. From the first moments Allison Batty as the nearly maddened Bella Maningham was fascinatingly high strung. She was nervous, timid, jumpy and thoroughly cowed. Jonathan Molitor played her villainous husband, Jack, as a really nasty piece of work, pitiless and scheming monster. The character of Detective Ruff is one of the most complex of “Angel Street.” Chris Nelson hasn’t yet fully gotten the part, but he was both stolid and inventive as the household’s savior, Detective Ruff. Coryell Barlow as Nancy, the spitefully saucy maid, and Sheila Regan as Elizabeth, the supportive loyal maid, were nicely played studies in contrast.
This summer’s season at Brown County has been one of high-class variety and contrast. Things began well with the wildness of the characters and setting of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” Next came the warmth of the strange family of “My Three Angels.” Now with “Angel Street” there is a worthy third piece, a thriller with a nicely twisted plot, interesting and involving characters, and some real edge of the seat tension.
The Brown County Playhouse’s production of Patrick Hamilton’s Victorian Thriller, “Angel Street” plays Wednesdays through Saturdays at eight and Sundays at two through August 30th.