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Dangerous Corner 

Wednesday, Aug 6 2003
Updating J.B. Priestly's noirish murder mystery from 1932 about denial among the young and fashionable is a nice idea, and should work well enough set in a hip Silicon Valley loft. But Bill English's production gets about halfway there and quits. The names, first of all -- Olwen, Mockridge, Stanton -- belong to 1932, and the lines themselves feel decorous and sensitive compared to the things people say now. Today's young and spoiled are even more frivolous, I'm afraid, than Priestly's. The actors here also try too hard to make their characters look like goofs: Instead of carefully mimicking real Silicon Valley digirati they just act foolish, which is hard to take for two full acts. Nevertheless, Priestly's unraveling of a mysterious suicide within this heavy-drinking group of friends is a minor masterpiece of revelation. Secret after secret comes out in a well-paced evening of lies and half-truths, until Priestly rewinds the action at the very end for a stylish, late jazz-age conclusion. English also served as stage designer, and built a perfect, postindustrial set, with smooth wood paneling, a plasma-screen computer, and a modern geometric chaise longue. If only his concept were as clean.


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