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Theater Review: “Accomplice”

Pictured: Hannah Logan, Charles Peters
Photo credit:
Ken Jacques

Every now and then you bump into a play that is so strange, so far off the beaten track that you just sit back and wonder at it as it goes by.

Such is Rupert Holmes’ “Accomplice.” With elements of farce and nods to both Anthony Shaffer’s 1970 “Sleuth” and Ira Levin’s 1978 “Deathtrap,” Holmes sets up a premise, shows you your assumptions are wrong, and spends the rest of this comedy-thriller doing the same thing repeatedly.

Set in a comfortable English country house (credit Bob Shuttlesworth, and marvel at the fabulous wooden wine bottle wheel he’s constructed), “Accomplice” offers four characters, one murder plot, amusing dialogue and lots of twists and turns on its breakneck rush to the surprising conclusion.

I can’t say much (or even identify the characters) without giving the plot twists away. Suffice it to say that it opens with an Englishman coming home, putting up his umbrella, removing his hat and having a gin and tonic with a woman who seems to be his wife.

That’s the first deception. It continues from there, with two couples in varying combinations, sex openly mentioned and covertly engaged in, murder victims that aren’t dead, and plenty of activity around those bottles of gin and brandy.

The second act is a different kettle of fish altogether, and I’ll leave you to discover its delights.

“Accomplice” requires great comic timing and fine direction, and it gets both from director Jacquelyn Ritz and this fearsome foursome: Kenny Bordieri, Hannah Logan, Charles Peters and Tatiana Mac. Each actor plays at least two roles. All are adept and look like they’re having a wonderful time.

How could they not, with witty verbal exchanges like this:

Wife: “You never exercise.”

Husband: “Not true. I’ve been wrestling with my conscience for years.”

Holmes won his second Edgar Award for “Accomplice” (the first was for “Drood,” his 1985 musical based on the unfinished Dickens story “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”).

“Accomplice, playing through Oct. 8 at Scripps Ranch Theatre, offers one of the most amusing evenings to be found in the theater.

The details

“Accomplice” plays through October 8, 2017 at Legler Benbough Theatre, 9783 Avenue of Nations, off Pomerado Road in Scripps Ranch (on the campus of Alliant International University).

Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (858) 578-7728 or www.scrippsranchtheatre.org