The Westmoreland Players current production, “Night Watch” isn’t a “whodunit.” It’s more of a “whodunwhat?” that kept a full house of theater-goers puzzling throughout its opening night Saturday.
“Night Watch” starts quietly and stays that way for maybe three minutes. At that point Elaine Wheeler, played by Marcia Peters, looks out the window of her apartment and starts shrieking. She keeps it up pretty much non-stop telling everybody she has seen a dead body in the house next door. The police, played by Alan Hooker and Samuel Levere, can’t find any evidence of a body and they, along with Elaine’s husband, John (John Pitman), girl friend (Laurie Breakwell) and maybe the Wheelers maid, Helga (Anita Harrower) all conclude Elaine is nuts and plot to have her committed to a sanitarium in Switzerland with the aid of an alleged psychiatrist (Mary J. Leslie). The Wheeler’s next-door-neighbor, a not-quite flamboyantly gay guy (Daniel Beckhard) and a deli owner from down the street (Tyler Sanders), who shows up in a temper because all the police activity around the empty house is hurting his business, may not think Elaine has lost it but are as confused as everybody else.
By the time all the characters have made their entrances, it’s pretty clear that funny business is going on but not at all clear what it is and who’s doing it. The only one who doesn’t seem to have some reason to be up to anything, beyond a bit of blackmail, is the maid, Helga.
The cast is uniformly good and Helga and the girl friend’s killing looks at each other are worth the price of admission. While “Night Watch” is not a comedy, it has funny moments and several great quips.
The play takes place in the Wheeler’s extravagantly decorated living room which includes a Picasso and a Modigliani. Bill Armstrong designed the set, which like all Westmoreland Players sets is exquisite.
Janice Coates directed Night Watch and Nancy Royall produced it.
The play will run at the playhouse on Route 360 just west of Callao on the weekends through March 8. Ticket information is available at 529-9345