Adapted for the stage by Charley Sherman
Based on the novel, Legion by William Peter Blatty
Directed by Anne Adams
Produced by WildClaw Theatre
At the Viaduct Theatre, Chicago
Mystery tale of supernatural demons fizzles
The folks at WildClaw Theatre need to see how Lifeline Theatre or City Lit Theatre deftly adapts a novel for the stage since they reduce a mystery novel to its essence without diminishing the integral suspense elements. Charley Sherman’s rambling, unfocused adaptation of Blatty’s Legion never creates enough urgency nor sense of horror to sustain our interest for the 2 hour and 30 minute play.
To create a scary atmosphere more is needed that a gloomy music intro and underscoring. A tightly focused quick pace together with a razor-sharp plot with just enough narrative and character development are sure fire ingredients for a suspenseful story. Add smart acting and split-second timing and you have the elements to scare the hell out of an audience.
Unfortunately, Legion has little or none of the above rendering the work as a plodding mess. Besides being too long, Legion was a momentum breaking 15 minute intermission. Successful mysteries usually build the dramatic tension to its climax in a tight 90/100 minute or so one act.
The early scenes of act one doomed the show for me as we meet the amazingly uninteresting, mumble-mouthed police detective, Lieutenant Kinderman. Len Bajenski is totally miscast as Kinderman. His Southside Chicago accent together with his mumbling and sing-song delivery killed many of his witty lines. Bajenski stumbled through his lines with numerous flubs. His lack of charisma and poor elocution hurt the production especially when he rambled on with a few monologues. The Lieutenant is faced with a series of grisly murders resembling the work of a dead serial killer. It takes until act two to get us to meet Damien or Sunlight – the essence of true evil nicely played to the hilt by the terrific Scott T. Barsotti.
Unfortunately, by the time we get to the mysterious elements we are confused and worn out. The work need massive cuts and the recasting of several roles to have a chance. Many of the short scenes left me wondering: “What was that about?” This is supposed to be a supernatural thriller with loads of horror to scare us. It only bored us. This work needs to be re-thought and re-imagined. As now presented, it collapses under its own weight.
At the Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western,Chicago, IL, tickets $10 – $20,Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through April 18, 2010