Sunday, October 10, 2010

Murder in Green Meadows!

Masks for Halloween

Performance | Thu, 10/07/2010 - 9:29 pm | Read 187 | Commented 0 | Emailed 0

Last October, Magenta staged a superb production of Frederick Knott’s classic, Wait Until Dark. This year they’re producing something in a similar vein: an intense thriller of sex, deceit and murder set in the cozy suburbs, Douglas Post’s Murder in Green Meadows, directed by Jaynie Roberts. But whereas Dark depicted the horror of external intrusion, Meadows reflects the terror under everyday facades.
For the cast, Roberts turns to reliable stalwarts of Magenta and Vancouver theater. Dave Roberts and Lynn Greene play Thomas and Joan Devereaux, something of a typical suburban couple. Thomas is a home designer and has, in effect, created the neighborhood they’ve just moved into. They are welcomed by a pair of neighbors, Carolyn and Jeff Symons (Dorinda Toner and Glenn Chipman). But when Thomas finds out Joan has been having an affair with Jeff, he suggests a dramatic course to save their marriage.
Like any good thriller, Green Meadows takes what should be our comfort zone (in this case, a loving partner in a suburban home) and turns it into something to be terrified of. Roberts plays a social misfit, someone who is uncomfortable around other people and who likes complete control of his life, up to and especially Joan. Dressed in khakis and a polo shirt, and sporting short hair and thick-framed glasses, he looks like a prototypical nerd: something that doesn’t exactly strike terror into the heart. It’s all the more shocking, then, when he shows his true self in bursts of rage and brutality.
The rest of the cast is routinely strong. Chipman stutters and stumbles as the hapless sucker caught in the middle of everything, but, in this story, it’s the women who really make up the meat. There’s a theme about the directions that women can take, and Greene is especially good as the tragic Joan, who probably had been a dreamer but ended up taking the wrong path somewhere along the way. When confronted by her overbearing husband, her good housewife front crumbles to soft speech, glazed eyes and quivering lips. Ultimately, her loyal and sultry masks are stripped away and she’s reduced to being something she probably always was: a woman dependent on someone to tell her what to do.
Both Greene and Toner are adorned in bright make-up that are like masks over their discontent. Toner is smarmy and jovial as Carolyn, who’s not so subtle about her boredom. After the turning point in the middle of the play, she shows herself to be as self-reliant and sneaky – in almost a villainous sort of way – as her neighbors.
The story of Murder in Green Meadows isn’t terribly complicated, nor especially clever, but the underlying theme (what lies behind the mask, if you will) is what makes it fascinating and an often disturbing suburban thriller. Magenta and its bevy of fine actors flesh it out and leave us this Halloween season to consider what lurks within our beloveds’ closets . . . or our own.
Murder in Green Meadows runs through October 16, and for those looking for more supernatural thrills, fear not: there will be zombies on Main Street this Halloween. For more information, visit

No comments: