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The Soul of an Intruder

Reviewed by Jeanette Toomer

Presented by Herkimer Entertainment Theatre 3, 311 W. 43 St., 3rd fl., NYC, Aug. 16-Sept. 30.

The opening minutes of the "The Soul of an Intruder" are silent. A middle-aged working woman returns home to her upscale studio apartment, unwinds a little, listens to some music, forks out some Chinese take-out dinner, and then notices her blinking answering machine.

Director Frank Cento does a great job of making much of little moments, allowing uncomfortable silence and pregnant pauses to establish a suspenseful dramatic mood. Sylva Kelegian is perfectly cast as Mabel, a woman alone, who is re-living a traumatic event of her young adult life. She has a fragile quality about her that suggests her world is tenuously held together.

Enter Jack Amsterdam, her college sweetheart from 15 years ago. Stephen Beach portrays this confident, subtly arrogant, newly-divorced man who pines for Mabel. Upon their reunion in her apartment, he proposes marriage to her.

She, in turn, professes her love and agrees to marry him. This development stretches suspended belief to new heights. Playwright Steve Braunstein gives several cues in the early dialogue between these two characters that forebode tragedy. The director and this talented trio of actors masterfully execute the slow unfolding of something not quite right.

Finally, Cliff Diamond is Eddie Dixon, the competing love interest. The faithful Eddie stubbornly tries to awaken Mabel from her ill-fated reverie, leading to an event that he is loath to re-enact. Diamond is very effective as the trustworthy lover doomed to repeat his past.

This richly textured psychological thriller tends to get long-winded in the second act. Too much dialogue needlessly delays the stripping away of Mabel's illusions.

The exemplary set by Chas W. Roeder is a stark, bright contrast to Mabel's murky reality. Warm lighting provided by Ed McCarthy supports the rekindled romance.

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