Rachel Reiner Productions
FIT TO KILL
By VICTOR CAHN
Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 W. 42 St., NYC, April 9 – 30, 2005
Directed by ERIC PARNESS
Scenic Design ROBERT R. SWEETNAM
Costume Design SIDNEY SHANNON
Lighting Design PAMELA KUPPER
Sound Design NICK MOORE
Fight Choreographer RAY A. RODRIGUEZ
Production Stage Manager SUSAN D. LANGE
Press Representative SAM RUDY MEDIA RELATIONS
Adrian Bonham – Patrick Melville
Amy Courtland – Lanie MacEwan
Janice Stoner – Jana Robbins
FIT TO KILL has been promoted as a play in the tradition of DEATHTRAP. It is, but unfortunately is not resolved in a manner that suggests any of the genuine cleverness that characterized the inspiration. The packaging is nice along the way, and it is not until the very end that we realize that the audience has essentially been duped by the playwright, but aside from some promising set ups, there is not much meat to the material here.
Back to the beginning, we meet mogul Janice Stoner and her clever but penniless chess master spouse Adrian Bonham. Mr. Bonham likes the ladies, Ms. Stoner demands loyalty, and the kind of power struggle that defines their marriage is evident immediately. Of course, a third party arrives in the form of leggy blonde Amy Courtland, and the chase to see just who is FIT TO KILL begins.
As you may imagine, the whole point here is that everyone plays both sides. Adrian and Amy plot to drown Janice in the tub, and then Janice and Amy discuss drowning Adrian in the swimming pool. Adrian and Janice have a plan of their own, as does Amy, but just who is really on what side is never answered satisfactorily. Yes, the ending is a surprise, but is one that takes us beyond the scope of the action that precedes it, and that tactic just does not make for good suspense. Making FIT TO KILL even more problematic is a lack of both tension and humanity conveyed by the actors. No one made me nervous; neither did they make me sympathetic, so by the time things wrapped up, there was nothing much to do aside from shrug my shoulders.
Different interpretations of the characters, along with more specific direction could have helped FIT TO KILL bite rather than bark. Regrettably however, when a play endeavors to wade into the treacherous waters of a genre called suspense, the premise had better be quite clever indeed, not to mention the big payoff at the end. This play is not there yet. With some work, perhaps it could be.
- Kessa De Santis -