|YOU may think you
know something about murder mysteries, but after seeing
"Accomplice" at Broadway West in Fremont, you'll not only
question what you saw and heard, you'll likely acknowledge the
fact that seeing isn't really believing at all.
That's because director Troy Johnson has crafted a
delightfully twisted tale of intrigue and mayhem that catches
the audience unaware many times. What you see isn't what you
get, and what you get isn't what you expected. If that isn't
what you want in an evening of stimulating entertainment, what
This not-often-performed play, written in 1990 by Tony
Award-winner Rupert Holmes ("The Mystery of Edwin Drood") is
truly a marvel. It's the kind of mystery Agatha Christie might
write while under the influence of a hallucinatory drug.
Johnson's cast is uniformly excellent — even the understudy
who performed, or didn't, on opening weekend. As Janet Taylor
(or not), Michele Leavy delivers a spot-on glorious
performance. She offers up quick retorts, deadpan grimaces and
gritty sex scenes with equal aplomb (and all with barely
getting her hair mussed). This is a tour de force for any
actor, and Leavy is easily up to the
That said, the other actors are also well cast. Todd
Wright's rolling, bulging eyes and flummoxed ways make him the
perfect foil for Leavy's droll delivery. He creates the
stereotypical British stiff-upper-lip character just before
the audience gets to watch it crumble beneath him (that is,
when Leavy's not in that position).
If you infer from that last sentence that this play is for
mature audiences, all to the good. For while nudity is — or
isn't — a part of the show, there is enough sexual humor and
coupling to make Broadway West forewarn theatergoers to leave
the youngsters at home.
"Accomplice" is built on a foundation of hilarious double
entendres that must be watched to be appreciated. One that
comes to mind is when Wright responds "Come again?" to a Leavy
line. Her comeback: "Not since the honeymoon."
There are also dozens of clever toss-away lines that
tickle: "They think Uta Hagen is a brand of ice cream," "Miss
Polyurethane-brain" (referring to one of the actors) and one
about Broadway actor Mandy
Patinkin performing the play "Love Letters" as a one-man show.
James Hiser and Amanda Mitchell round out the tiny cast,
though with all of the actors playing multiple roles — or not
— the ensemble seems larger.
Hiser and Mitchell are up to the task of doing whatever the
script calls for, and if that sounds vague, it's because to
say anything else would reveal more than you ought to know
before seeing this production.
On equal standing with the actors are the marvelous special
effects created by Michael
Ulmari and director Johnson. Some of their touches are
truly electrifying, to say the least.
The set — appropriately upper-class 1970s England — is
purported to be David and Janet Taylor's moorland cottage not
too far from London. In the first act, one jarring prop
slip-up was a highly visible 2006 bottle of Safeway-brand diet
tonic water. That seemed strange considering that many other
props (like the seltzer fizz dispenser) appeared authentic.
The fireplace — an integral part of the plot in Act 1 — was an
awkward shape, but it showed its dual purpose in Act 2.
To say more would be to reveal too much and spoil your
delight when you see the play. Suffice to say that although
there are no butlers or detectives in the play, it's a true
whodunit. Hmmm. Maybe it's a did-someone-do-it? Or a
why-didn't-someone-do-it? Or a ... well, you get the idea.
Playwright Holmes himself once said, "Even if I told you
the truth, I'd be lying."
It's not a lie to say that "Accomplice" is a play that
never takes itself too seriously — even when the audience
If that piques your curiosity, get thee to Broadway West to
enjoy a marvelously inventive, brainteaser of a play where
you, too, may get caught up in becoming a willing accomplice.