RCT's 'Night Watch' a brain-teaser with a twist

Hardly anyone in "Night Watch," the murder mystery that opened Friday at Rochester Civic Theatre , is as they first appear.

That includes Elaine, the young New York housewife who seems to be unraveling before our eyes; Helga, the gruff housekeeper; Blanche, the seemingly likable best friend; Elaine's husband, John, who, now that we think of it, doesn't always exhibit the patience of a saint, and "Dr. Lake," who may or may not really be a psychiatrist.

Then there's Curtis Appleby, the neighborhood gossip who simply has to be hiding something behind that over-the-top facade.

If you're scoring along with us, it all adds up to any number of possible answers to the show's main question: Did Elaine really see those dead bodies in the abandoned building across the way or is someone trying to drive her crazy?

Depending on your sleuthing ability, you might not figure it out until the very end. Before that, "Night Watch," written by Lucille Fletcher and directed by Greg Miller, keeps the audience guessing.


It's a brain-teaser of a show, highlighted by Suzanne Eastlund's intense performance as Elaine. It cannot be easy to act as if on the edge of psychosis for an entire play. Sean Lundberg is back on the RCT stage as Elaine's husband, with Christina Stier as the overly concerned best friend who just might haves a sinister side.

Meanwhile, Blake Hogue has way too much fun as Curtis, who exhibits a sixth sense of what's really going on — or is he a part of it?

Also in the cast are Andrea Tieskotter as Helga, Kendra Weyhrauch as Dr. Lake, James Driessen and Brian Bedard as police officers, and Alex Beerling as a local deli owner.

There are times when this play feels like it's pitched too high, with some characters acting overly frantic, angry or exasperated. The occasionally cartoonish style can intrude upon what is supposed to be a serious mystery.

The show takes place in a refurbished New York apartment, with works of art on the wall, shelves of books, and those windows through which Elaine sees whatever it is she sees. Halfway through, you're ready to get out of your seat and take a look for yourself.

Stay where you are, though, because this one comes with a real twist at the end.

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