SLIPPERY AS SIN is Slick as a Whistle

by Walter Bender

Justin Jain, June Ballinger and Joniece Abbott-Pratt in a scene from SLIPPERY AS SIN at Passage Theatre Company. (Photo credit: Michael Goldstein)

Occasionally we at STAGE get to review a new play. When you have no preconceptions, no prior productions to compare it to, it makes the review even more exciting than usual. And, when the new production is produced by a skilled team like those at the Passage Theatre Company, it makes the evening a total joy.

SLIPPERY AS SIN debuted on May 17, with its official opening night on May 19. A new comic thriller by David Lee White (the author of BLOOD: A COMEDY, which debuted at Passage in 2009,) SLIPPERY AS SIN is a loving homage to the film noir of the 30’s and 40’s as well as a tip of the hat to the famous detective genre. The central character is Detective Dorrington, played with great skill by Greg Wood. Wood brings pieces of Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan and Inspector Maigret to his portrayal of Dorrington, an aging master detective who is being put out to pasture. He commands the stage, showing the uber-confidence of the veteran problem-solver, and in more private moments allows the audience to see the fraying confidence and skills that he fears the most.

Every master detective has an assistant…in Dorrington’s case it is Harry Cleek (Justin Jain.) Harry is clearly devoted to Dorrington yet finds that he must move on. Jain is stellar in this role, as the biographer/assistant, and the frazzled fiancé of Lolly Beltham (Joniece Abbott-Pratt), who is a girl in search of adventure and excitement behind her sheltered exterior. Abbot-Pratt shows the classic side of the ingénue, with the comedic sides that reveal the “bad girl” behind the “good girl.”

Greg Wood stars in Passage Theatre Company's SLIPPERY AS SIN. (Photo credit: Michael Goldstein)

The hostess of the evening is Madam Sarah Beltham (June Ballinger) who is the woman with a secret. Her secret is shared by Harry’s father, Randolph Cleek (Brian Anthony Wilson) and Morrison the butler (Trent Blanton), both of whom have secrets of their own. Wilson and Blanton both shine; Wilson commanding the stage as the munitions factory magnate with very pointed views on politics, and Blanton showing great comedic timing and range. Beltham also shows great comedic skills, her character showing increasing desperation to find a certain document.

The show is directed with great skill by Adam Immerwahr, who keeps things moving along briskly, and adds in all of the prototypical effects…slamming doors, thunder and lightning, and “convenient” blackouts. The cast moves in and out smoothly, never allowing the pace to lag. And, there are some slapstick physical comedic moments that had the audience laughing throughout.

Passage Theatre Company is celebrating their 25th year, and they have a wonderful addition to their history. Take the time to go see this new show…it’s a fun evening, with some wonderful performances.

A comedic thriller by David Lee White
Directed by Adam Immerwahr
May 17-June 3, 2012
Passage Theatre Company
Mill Hill Playhouse
205 E. Front St.
Trenton, NJ 08611
(609) 392-0766

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