Thursday, January 16, 2014
If you go
“Wrong Window” opens Friday and runs Jan. 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 and 26. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. Tickets are available by calling the box office at 785-843-7469 or online at theatrelawrence.com.
Erica Fox loves a good comedy.
“The last few shows I’ve done have been really heavy drama,” the Lawrence-based actor said. “It’s nice to do something different.”
“Wrong Window,” which opens Friday at Theatre Lawrence, is about as different from heavy drama as one could imagine. The 2008 comic caper spoofs a number of Alfred Hitchcock films, especially “Rear Window.”
“It’s got mistaken identity, door-slamming, visual humor and is pretty screwball,” Fox said. “Watching the show during rehearsal, I laughed, so I think the audience will have a good time.”
Fox plays Marnie Elbies. Like in “Rear Window,” she and her husband think they witness their neighbor being murdered. But as they take it upon themselves to investigate, it becomes increasingly unclear who did what and whether the “victim” is even dead.
Spoofing a style requires understanding it first, so Fox spent some time doing research.
“I watched ‘Rear Window’ again to get a sense of it,” she said. “I’m familiar with Hitchcock, and the play also makes references to ‘North by Northwest’ and ‘Notorious’ too. I wanted to get a sense of the style.”
What she found was a particular archetype in Hitchcock’s women.
“They are these 1950s and early-’60s well-bred and well-spoken women,” Fox said. “But there is a lot going on underneath the surface that belies that calm surety.”
Digging into the source material also revealed how clever the script by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore is.
“If you know ‘Rear Window,’ there are a lot of in-jokes and references,” Fox said. “I recommend people see the movie so they’ll get a lot more out (the play).”
And it’s not just the characters that play loving, comic tribute to the Master of Suspense. Fox noted that atmosphere is a big part of it too.
“Hitchcock creates these small spaces,” she said. “This is the first show in the new building that isn’t a big musical, and it’s a lot bigger space than what we were used to in the old building. It’s been a little more challenging to create the intimacy the show requires.”
But Fox said that though the larger facility makes it harder to invoke the Hitchcockian atmosphere, it also offers new opportunities.
“The show takes place in two apartments, with the neighbors spying on each other,” she said, “so we’re using the revolve to create both apartments and switch back and forth.”
Fox hopes the play rekindles a love of Hitchcock and his classic films.
“I hope the older patrons recognize and appreciate that atmosphere,” she said. “And for the younger audience members who might not be familiar with them, I hope it inspires some interest in those old masterpieces.”
Atmosphere and source material aside, though, “Wrong Window” is an over-the-top comedy.
“We want people to have a fun evening,” Fox said. “We hope they’ll get a few laughs.”