Review: Dangerous Corner – a beautiful looking radio play with a stellar cast

The Vancouver Playhouse serves up an oxymoron with their current production of JB Priestley’s Dangerous Corner as Director Bill Dow gives us a beautiful looking radio play performed by a stellar cast.

While not intended as such, in a recent interview in the Vancouver Sun, Director Dow wondered if Dangerous Corner indeed started out as a radio play.  It was obvious to me that this possibility was always in the back of his mind, resulting in some wonderful performances, from an amazing cast, that would have been at home just as much in a staged reading as it is in this more traditional production.

An intimate group of friends are gathered after dinner in the country house of publisher Robert Caplan.  An off-handed remark by Miss Mockridge about the apparent suicide of Caplan’s brother Martin re-opens the wound surrounding his death.  The evening quickly turns that “dangerous corner”, slowly spiraling into revelations of deceit and infidelity that is destined to pull apart this “snug little group”.

Dangerous Corner
The cast of the Vancouver Playhouse production of Dangerous Corner.

Given the radio play like quality of Dangerous Corner it takes a talented ensemble to effectively pull it off and Director Dow has assembled a cast (Jennifer Clement, Vincent Gale, Charlie Gallant, Anna Galvin, Anastasia Phillips, Tom Scholte and Christine Willes) up for that challenge.

No weak link in the bunch, watch closely as each of these actors provides little clues to the relationships and secrets they are hiding: Anna Glavin’s Olwen with the weight of a huge secret on her shoulders; Vincent Gale’s Robert who pays just a little too much attention to someone other than his wife; Anastasia Phillips’ Betty with a not quite so real smile that masks her own dark secret.

It is not difficult to see how some productions of Dangerous Corner might be served up for laughs with some of its more melodramatic text, but Dow’s decision to play it straight is a solid one, allowing for a richness of the characters to develop.  It also shows to the strength of the actors in their ability to deftly step away from that melodrama precipice.

The attention to detail is also seen in Director Dow’s movement of his actors on stage.  While I was at first a little surprised by how much he moves his actors around Alison Green’s rather compact set, once they became stationary the tableaus created were really quite stunning.

Doing double-duty here as Costume Designer, Green provides elegant sophistication to the men in tailored tuxedos and some beautiful gowns for the women all working perfectly in synch with Dow’s tableaus and the time period.

Dangerous Corner might not end the 2009/2010 Playhouse season with a bang, but I’ll take substance over flash any day.

4 out of 5 Stars Dangerous Corner
Vancouver Playhouse
1 – 22 May 2010

Tickets are $30-$56 available by calling 604 873 3311 or online at vancouverplayhouse.com.

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