-Theatre Review By Victoria Kennedy–
Baltimore, January 9 – February 8, 2015: Vagabond Players continues its 99th season with a production of Ira Levin’s Interlock. Directed by Roy Hammond, this period melodrama takes place following World War II. The backdrop of a wonderfully crafted set recreates the music room of a Gramercy Park mansion. Here, the ensemble cast of five skillfully enacts the story of Mrs. Price, a wealthy invalid, played by Laura Gifford, her German “companion” Hilde (Karina Ferry), Hilde’s fiancé Paul (Rick Lyon-Vaiden) and Mrs. Price’s house staff, Lucille and Everett, played by Lisa Walker and Grant Chism.
The opening scene introduces Hilde and Paul. As a personal assistant, Hilde has the personage of a polished secretary. Paul, by comparison, is a little scruffy. They are seen commiserating. Paul, who works the night shift as a baker, expresses his desire to be a pianist and laments his lack of means to pursue his dream. He is visiting the household of Hilde’s employer and worries the wealthy, attractive and wheelchair-bound Lady of the House, Mrs. Price, will discover him as an unwelcome surprise. Hilde tries to convince her fiancé he is welcome and that it would benefit him to meet her employer, but Paul remains reluctant. When Mrs. Price enters unexpectedly after a dinner party, she discovers Paul sitting at her grand piano. The strange relationship developing out of this encounter swings like a pendulum between a ménage a trois and scenes of malicious manipulation.
The play’s gripping tension echoes the style of old radio show horror tales, where the story evolves rapidly and unpredictably. Hilde introduces Paul, hoping that her employer will assist him launching his music career. Mrs. Price, on the other hand, quickly forms an affinity for the engaged musician. She desires Paul all for herself, setting the stage for conflict. Cue the dramatic music:
1940s big band tunes play seamlessly in the background as Hammond unfolds a dramatic love triangle with dark overtones and steeped in mystery. Hammond wears his second hat of set designer, composing so brilliant a stage that audiences will regard the props and scenery as additional characters. A marble staircase perfectly frames scenes of confrontation and dramatic entrances. Another notable feature is the costume selection. From Hilde’s day clothes to Mrs. Price’s dazzling evening gowns, the cast adeptly captures the styles of the period.
Gifford does an excellent job portraying Price as a tragic victim. She elicits pity, using money and her disability to manipulate outcomes; namely Paul’s reliance on her as his benefactor. She goes so far as to throw herself from her wheelchair when he expresses a desire to leave her residence. Her loyal, longtime housekeeper (Lucille) is fiercely protective and feels threatened by Hilde’s presence. But Price’s ploys aren’t completely lost on her. In her debut acting performance, Lisa Walker shows real potential. She is convincing in her role of the dutiful and selectively observant employee. Everett, the chauffeur, is Lucille’s sidekick, but he is not so blindly obedient to his employer’s wiles. Nor is he above intervening when Lucille’s loyalties cross the line during a confrontation with Hilde.
Mrs. Price is used to getting what she wants. The shady details of the accident that crippled her and killed her late husband reveal a deviously plotting character that will stop at nothing to have her way. Hilde, played superbly by Ferry, becomes a casualty of Price’s war games. Lyon-Vaiden, likewise, plays the damaged German refugee well. Only time will tell if Paul is clever enough to avoid playing right into Mrs. Price’s hands.
Interlock paints a tense and intriguing picture of possessiveness and the indiscretions of the wealthy class. The play tests each character’s integrity, asking does everyone have their price? Without spoiling surprises, enough is said noting the old maxim; “All is fair in love and war.” If you’re the sinister and conniving type, be prepared to take notes on strategy. Known for rendering stories filled with drama and horror, like Rosemary’s Baby and Stepford Wives, Ira Levin, provides all the necessary elements, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats.
Post Photos Courtesy of Tom Lauer.