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Theater Breaking Through Barriers Presents Agatha Christieís "The Unexpected Guest" at the Clurman Theatre
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Theater Breaking Through Barriers Presents Agatha Christieís "The Unexpected Guest" at the Clurman Theatre

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Theater Breaking Through Barriers

Ike Schambelan, Founding Artistic Director
Nicholas Viselli, Associate Director

Agatha Christieís
The Unexpected Guest

Directed by Victoria Rauch-Lichterman

At the
Clurman Theatre
(Theatre Row Website)
410 West 42nd Street

Pamela Sabaugh, Nicholas Viselli, Ann Marie Morelli
Christopher Imbrosciano, Melanie Boland, David Rosar Stearns,
Anthony Michael Lopez, Lawrence Merritt, Scott Barton

General Manager: Steve Asher
Set and Lighting Design: Bert Scott
Props Design: Charles Bowden
Costume Design: Amanda Jenks
Sound Design: Sam Crawford
Production Stage Manager: Kate Croasdale
Production Manager: Sherri Kotimsky
Press Representative: Bob Lasko

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 1, 2015

Not only is the Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB) revival of Agatha Christieís The Unexpected Guest a riveting, satisfying production, but it even includes a Piazzolla tango sound track, for mysterious interludes. The director of this revival, at the Clurman, was to have been Ike Schambelan, TBTBís Founding Artistic Director, but he unfortunately passed away in February. Victoria Rauch-Lichterman ultimately directed, with excellent timing and tone, keeping the clues incrementally meaningful. The theater company includes actors with and without a variety of physical challenges, and, in this play, the company wove its mission of inclusion through the nuanced Christie characters. The two-act play takes place in Britainís South Wales near the Bristol Channel, over the course of an evening into the next day. When the lights reveal the stage, after the firing of a gun, one deceased character, Richard Warwick, never seen by the audience, is lying in a wheelchair, facing stage rear, as if looking outdoors. Laura Warwick (Pamela Sabaugh) stands tightly against the wall, holding a gun. Michael Starkwedder (Nicholas Viselli), a stranger, enters the living room, through a French glass door, having run his auto into a ditch. Seeing Laura Warwick with the gun, and the dead body of her husband, and immediately cozying up, after she confesses to the crime, Starkwedder offers to help Laura find a credible alibi.

Additional residents appear: Miss Bennett (Ann Marie Morelli), the manager of the home, Jan Warwick (Christopher Imbrosciano), Richardís learning-disabled, younger, half-brother, Mrs. Warwick (Melanie Boland), Richardís steely mother, and Henry Angell (David Rosar Stearns), Richardís personal servant. Also appearing on the scene, as the plot thickens, is Lauraís secret lover, Julian Farrar (Scott Barton), Sergeant Cadwallader (Anthony Michael Lopez), and Inspector Ian Thomas (Lawrence Merritt). Dialogue ensues, as Laura tells Starkwedder about a man, now deceased, who might have had a motive to do Richard in. As Act II unfolds, the audience realizes that several characters could have had motives for murder: Jan having been tormented by Richard and threatened with institutionalization, Laura having been emotionally abused for years, Mrs. Warwick having been worried for her second sonís security, Angell perhaps having been promised an inheritance, or Julian perhaps wanting to run off with a wealthy widow. Tonightís audience was invited to write down one character, most likely to be Richardís murderer. After the curtain, the guesses were tabulated and announced, as by then the mystery had been solved.

Ms. Rauch-Lichterman directed to maximize the nuanced personalities and relationships. Bert Scott added old English antiques to his dark, wooden set, as well as a credible French door. Mr. Scottís lighting was a subdued dimness, entirely appropriate for a foggy British town. Amanda Jenks designed engaging costumes, and Charles Bowden added interesting props. Each actor drew me in, especially Nicholas Viselli (an Associate Director and Producer in the company), who was a multi-textured Michael Starkwedder, and Pamela Sabaugh, who shifted her story and character intent with the subtlest of gesture. I look forward to the 2015-2016 productions of Theater Breaking Through Barriers.

Pamela Sabaugh, Christopher Imbrosciano,
Lawrence Merritt, Nicholas Viselli
in Theater Breaking Through Barrier's production
of Agatha Christie's "THE UNEXPECTED GUEST"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg.

Pamela Sabaugh, Christopher Imbrosciano,
Nicholas Viselli, Ann Marie Morelli
in Theater Breaking Through Barrier's production
of Agatha Christie's "THE UNEXPECTED GUEST"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at