The Bridge Players’ production of Maxwell Anderson’s BAD SEED adapted from William March and directed by Gabrielle Affleck in Burlington, New Jersey does not disappoint. The show is a two-act dramatic play with a fifteen minute intermission that centers around eight-year-old Rhoda the only child of Colonel Kenneth Penmark and his wife, Christine. When the Colonel is called away on business, his wife and young daughter are left at home to fend for themselves. After a young boy who had won a medal Rhoda thought was rightfully hers mysteriously drowns under suspicious circumstances, Christine must decide whether or not her well-behaved eight-year-old is actually a sociopath capable of murder.
The show is lengthy in nature, about two hours and forty-five minutes, including the fifteen minute intermission, but the actors keep you captivated for every minute. Young Rose Lloyd-Slifkin, who portrays Rhoda, charms the audience from the start in her characteristic white polka-dotted red dress. That’s the best part of this production, being drawn in from the start to love such a sweet little girl yet knowing in the back of your mind what a deviant menace she actually is. Lloyd-Slifkin’s ability to command such a character is well beyond her years. Alice Weber’s portrayal of the distraught Christine pulls at your heartstrings. The range of emotions exhibited by the actress was received well by audience members who couldn’t help but sympathize with the character; a trait often aimed for yet difficult to accomplish in such types of shows. Regina Deavitt, who played neighbor and friend Monica Breedlove, captivated the audience with her often pragmatic views and stances throughout the production. The mourning Mrs. Daigle, played by Gina Vitolo-Stevens, was done so effectively and thoroughly. So often there are times when an actor or actress attempts to portray emotions of deep sadness and they simply aren’t conveyed correctly or adequately. Gina Vitolo-Stevens is an exception to this statement. As an actress, she portrayed such gut-wrenching, soul-breaking sorrow that you couldn’t help but tear up watching the character mourn her son’s death. It should be noted that ALL of the actors and actresses put on a superb performance for this production.
The set was comforting and warm, a nice representation of the typical loving household. It was unique unlike anything I’ve seen before in that it extended out into the apron of the stage and around towards the stairs on either side of the stage. These areas were blocked off allowing for additional wing space for the actors to enter and exit. I should also note the beautiful costumes that not only made the actors look good but also enhanced their characterization as well. Lighting and sound designs were superb and added to the enhancement of the show. Sounds were not simply projected into the audience plainly, but were aimed strategically from certain speakers in certain places to convey directionality to the sound that many productions lack.
The only problems I would point out are the length at which certain transitions took place in between scenes. The shorter a transition can be, the more captivated an audience stays. I felt as if the transitions may have taken a bit too long at times. Only a time or two did I feel there were moments of unplanned silence that seemed to interrupt the flow of the scene. These problems are slight in nature and don’t affect the overall quality of performance these actors gave.
Affleck led her actors and staff to put on a captivating performance. I strongly recommend this production and this theatre company. I look forward to visiting the Bridge Players Theatre Company in the future.
by Maxwell Anderson
Adapted from William March
Directed by Gabrielle Affleck
October 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 2012
Bridge Players Theatre Company
Broad Street United Methodist Church
36 E. Broad Street