September 21 - September 27, 1995

B y  J a n a  R i v e r a

HAROLD DIXON GIVES The Invisible Theatre an electrifying performance to help it kick off the 1995 season. Dixon's wife Maedell joins him with a solid performance of her own in the two-person cast of IT season opener, Double Double.

Unfortunately, the dynamic duo is stuck in a mediocre script written by Eric Elice and Roger Rees. In spite of their strengths, the Dixons don't succeed in making this "romantic thriller" either romantic or thrilling.

Let's talk first about romance. Phillipa James (Maedell), an upper-crust widow, digs homeless Duncan McFee (Harold) out from under his newspaper blanket and takes him home. She gives him a bath or five, chops off hair and beard, does a Pygmalion transformation, and he's now ready to pose as dead hubby Richard James, and ready to help Phillipa collect the family fortune.

Somewhere in this seven-day process, Phillipa and Duncan supposedly fall in love. Now I know the Dixons are real-life husband and wife, but I couldn't detect even one eensy spark between the characters on stage. A script that doesn't allow a romance to evolve naturally--it simply forces the characters to proclaim their attraction to one another--paired with some awkward movement by director James Blair, requires the two actors to rely only on the natural chemistry between them. I wouldn't be so presumptuous to say there is none, but it wasn't apparent on stage. However, it may have been partially hindered by Phillipa's annoyingly prolonged state of angst under Blair's direction in the second half.

Which brings us to the thriller part. Nothing is ever as it seems in this play, and there are plenty of twists and turns. However, for awhile they don't happen quickly enough to keep us enthralled; then, in the second half, they happen so quickly that we can't settle into believing one before the next one comes up. By the time we get to the final swerve, we've either already guessed it or we just don't care.

The shortage of romance and thrills might be fine if the play could keep us laughing. But again, Double offers a chuckle here and there, but nothing consistent. Nothing new, nothing original, just the same tired old jokes--Duncan joking about the possibility of catching cold from all the baths Phillipa has forced him to take.

The best part of the play is watching and listening to Harold Dixon bolt back and forth--in both physical movement and dialect--between Scottish transient Duncan McFee and British snob Richard James. Dixon, UA drama professor and artistic director of Arizona Repertory Theatre, performs this feat flawlessly.

The Invisible Theatre's production of Double Double continues with performances at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through October 1, at 1400 N. First Ave. Tickets range from $12 to $14. Call 882-9721 for reservations and information.

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September 21 - September 27, 1995

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