By Richard Pacheco
Theatre One finishes its season with a production of Glyn Jones’ “Thriller of the Year,” a play about a thriller writer who suddenly finds her life in jeopardy after winning a major award find a copy of her latest award winning book has been delivered with no note and no indication as to who it is from.
As the evening unfolds, when a series of unfortunate accidents occur, she soon finds out why: someone is trying to kill her using methods from her own book. Will she be able to discover the identity of the murderer before it is too late, using her novel to stay one step ahead; she finally comes face to face with the murderer. In the last chapter of her book how did her heroine die? And will Gillian suffer the same fate!
Jones, was a South African writer who also wrote for Dr. Who which he not only wrote for but acted in several times.
The cast is strong and energetic. The have a solid chemistry between them and real verve. The award-winning writer, Gillian Howard, is played by Susan Salveston. Howard is smug, self-satisfied with her own importance and more than a bit of a bully. She likes to get her way at any and all costs, from anyone around her from her publisher to her assistant, her doctor to her soon to be former mother-in-law. None of them really matter in her universe unless they contribute to her goals and succumb to her wishes. Salveston handles it all with verve and aplomb, making the nastiness delicious and entertaining as she goes about verbally abusing people at her whim.
Holly Christian Cipriani is her publisher, Irene Knight, the woman who put Howard on the map in the writing world and now must endure Howard’s relentless attacks and threats to find another publisher for her next book. She likes her alcohol, and indulges in it liberally at the apartment, particularly when Howard is on the attack, knowing full well Howard is not suppo0swed to drink for health reasons. Cipriani is energetic and bold in the role, a solid presence fully able ton confront the rampaging Howard.
Vanessa Lima is Madge Robinson, Howard’s assistant and for all practical purposes indentured servant. Madge has a growing discontent with her job and her boss an wonders about leaving to find greener pastures in the job market. Madge is very efficient and has contributed a lot behind the scenes to Howard’s success, perhaps even adding something to her acclaimed novel, more than just typing it. She has an underlying resentment against her boss that is well justified. Lima is excellent in the role, a mixture of submission and self confidence in her abilities and contributions to her boss that is appealing and effective.
Elizabeth Goulart is the dedicated and determined Beryl Spence, Howard’s doctor at her beckon call. She is smart, dedicated and determined to be the most supportive doctor, even making house calls in the wee hours of the morning. She often battles Howard over health choices like drinking brandy. Goulart has a smart presence as the doctor. She is poised and in control at all times even faced with Howard’s often bombastic and relentless assaults on her and her advice. Goulart handles it all with confidence and conviction.
Finally there is Howard’s soon to be ex mother-in-law, Edith Howard who longs for Gillian to get back with her son and often hints very obviously in that direction. Edith is genuinely concerned and a bit of a meddler to achieve her goal of getting her son and Gillian back together again. She is not obnoxious it her quest, just very obvious. Linda Merritt is Edith. She is meek yet determined in her quest and she handles the role with sincerity and warmth. She is convincing.
Together this ensemble evokes a sense of impending doom, which mounts as the play progresses. All this under the sure and firm direction of Peg Holzemer, which keeps it all directly on track to build suspense and concern as the tension mounts.
The set by John Marzelli offers a fine sense of upper class presence with paintings on the wall and furniture.
All these elements offer a fun quest for a murder and mayhem as it all closes in and you wonder who is out to kill Gillian and why. It comes as a surprise which I will not spoil.
It will be presented again March 10 & 17, and Saturday evenings March 11 & 18 at 7:30pm. Sunday afternoons March 12 & March 19, at 2pm. Tickets are $20 for general admission, and $18 for seniors and students cash only at the door. We collect food donations at all our performances for the Middleboro COA Senior Pantry. Come join the fun with Theatre One, bringing a little bit of Broadway to your backyard. Info 1-774-213-5193.