'Laura' at ICT Mainstage: Mystery With Delicious Lines
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by Joseph Melnicoff
A mystery where the murder victim gets to actively participate in the investigation of her murder? Believe it or not, that's the intriguing premise of Laura, the murder mystery currently presented by ICT Mainstage. Vera Caspary's novel of the same name was published in 1943, and filmed a year later. In collaboration with George Sklar, Miss Caspary adapted her novel for the Broadway stage, where it had a short run in 1947. Since then, the play has become a staple of local theatre, with recent engagements in Long Beach and Los Angeles.
The performers were all first-rate. In the title role, Arlette Morgan sparkled as the self-absorbed and absorbing vixen. She had wonderful facial expressions and delivered her lines with self-assurance. Carmela Lamberti also shined as her maid, Bessie. Miss Lamberti brought the house down with her comic portrayal and delighted the audience when she sang a piece of Opera. Michael Madrinkian also scored as hepcat Danny Dorgan, a young admirer of Laura. Robb Pocklington's direction was steady and effective. The on-the-nose set by Sonya Worden and costumes by Judy Marcus greatly enhanced the presentation.
Unfortunately, Laura has not stood the test of time very well. Although built on an excellent foundation with some crackling dialogue, the play is on the talky side and may appear a bit antiquated for 21st Century audiences.
However, Laura does pack a wallop with its surprise ending. It is definitely a worthwhile evening for fans of the mystery genre. Laura continues through November 18 at ICT Mainstage. For more information, please visit their website.