Monday, August 20, 2012

All wrung out over the body in bath

From Arizona Star:  All wrung out over the body in bath

Imagine this: You glide into your bathroom to brush your teeth. Instead, you discover a body in your bath. A naked one, wearing nothing but pince-nez, those nose-pinching glasses popular in the 19th century.
It's the mystery that grips Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy L. Sayers' first detective novel, "Whose Body?"
Tucson playwright/actress Joan O'Dwyer has given that novel its first adaptation, switching the title to "The Body in the Bath." It's on stage now at Beowulf Alley Theatre.
Esther Almazán, a member of O'Dwyer's writing group, was tapped to direct, and she couldn't be more pleased.
"There's a lot of freedom doing a brand-new piece," she said last Thursday, a day before the play's opening.
"The actors come without expectations and are creating from an organic place."
And a lot of actors there are - 13.
It takes that many characters to tell Sayers' story about Wimsey, the amateur detective, and his world of lords and ladies, doctors and detectives, some of them not above murder.
"What we have put together is a whole life of Wimsey and the people around him," said Almazán. "We show how they are interconnected in a horrible situation."
No one is sure, in the story, who the body is and how it got in the tub. Not the homeowner, not the cops. Wimsey, of course, figures it all out between sips of brandy and juggling bocce balls (literally).
One of the tricks to making a piece like this work, said Almazán, is keeping the suspense high. No easy feat when all the actors know whodunit.
"Acting wise, it can be hard," she said. "The actors know who the murderer is, but their characters don't."
Another trick: directing a play when the playwright is in the same city and could, if she wanted, sit in on rehearsals every day. It's O'Dwyer's baby, and sometimes babies are hard to let go.
Not so with this production.
While the director and playwright did work together, discussing what worked and what needed revising, once rehearsals started it was Almazán who was in charge.
"Joan, in the beginning, decided she wanted to be hands off," said Almazán. "She made it clear it was my show."
If you go
• What: "The Body in the Bath"
• By: Joan O'Dwyer, adapted from the Dorothy L. Sayers novel "Whose Body?"
• Director: Esther Almazán
• When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays.
• Where: Beowulf Alley, 11 S. Sixth Ave.
• Tickets: $20, with discounts available
• Information/reservations: 882-0555;
• Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, with one intermission.
• Cast: Natalia Alvarado; Sofia Blue; Philip Cardnell; Robin Carson; David Gunther; Meagan Jones; Leah Kari; Ron Kari; Kim Lowry; James Pryor; Armen Sarrafian; David Swisher and Vincent Vulpis


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