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"Double Indemnity" Noir drama at ACT

Double Indemnity Premieres at ACT



Adapted by local theatre artists, David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright

SEATTLE, OCTOBER 6, 2011— ACT Theatre concludes its 2011 Season with the noir thriller, Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain and adapted for the stage in this world premiere by Seattle favorites, David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright. Double Indemnity is directed by Artistic Director Kurt Beattie, and features an ensemble of 5 actors. Performances begin Friday, October 21 and continue through Sunday, November 20. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at or 206.292.7676.

Double Indemnity is a classic noir piece complete with sultry affairs, a blonde bombshell and a murder mystery. This is a great evening out for those who love the genre, and for those who love a local premiere.

Pichette and Wright have taken a 1930s film and recreated it for the stage. Some elements work, some are weak. The set is disconcerting. Built on the Falls Theatre's thrust stage, it is essentially a massive teal triangle jutting into the stage space which opens, closes, and revolves. The staging becomes a bit awkward, and I found myself constantly wondering what was on the other side of the huge teal set piece that I could not see.

Another weakness is that the exposition as delivered by John Bogar (playing plotting insurance agent Walter Huff) and Carrie Paff (as Phyllis Nerlinger, the murderous femme fatale) is slow and plodding. Once Bogar and Paff hit the intense action of the play however, all stiffness dissipates. While their on-stage relationship might lack the smoldering heat that a good noir piece needs, they portray the inward torture and psychological demons of their characters with finesse.

They are supported in multiple roles by Richard Ziman (Keyes/Nirlinger), Jessica Martin (Lola Nirlinger/Nettie/Nurse), and Mark Anderson Phillips (Nino/Jackson/Norton). Philips is particularly impressive, to the point where the audience became convinced that there were different actors in each of his roles. Ziman and Martin do an admirable job, though Martin's performance as the daughter of the murdered man lacks levels or variety.

The show overall is a fun homage to the genre, but essential production elements such as sound and lighting lack the panache and presentational perfection that would have made it great. It remains, however, a solid production that delivers exactly what one hopes a dark, suspenseful show will, including a final jump moment.


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