Splash Magazines Review: DOUBLE DOOR is “a riotous Victorian mystery”

Are you in the mood for a riotous Victorian mystery with a dastardly villain who is evil incarnate, an innocent heroine who is a delicate flower in danger, and a pair of handsome, virtuous guys who are truly super heroes? Then DOUBLE DOOR is the show for you. Written at the turn of the 20th century by Elizabeth McFadden, this eerie melodrama tells the tale of a tyrannical spinster, the last of a Gilded Age dynasty of fabulously wealthy Park Avenue tycoons, whose iron fist controls the very lives of her neurotic sister and demoralized kid brother. When her gentle brother tries to escape from the gilded cage by marrying his fetching nurse, the story takes on a deadly air.

Victoria Von Bret, chillingly played by Rhonda Lord, decides that this interloper into the exalted heights of her family tree is a fortune hunter and trollop. Poor Rip, her down-trodden brother, and Anne, his hapless bride, are targeted for the most devious methods Victoria can employ to break them up and maintain her power. The two, ably portrayed by Ben Theobold and Annalee Scott, are in for a dangerous ride. When Victoria realizes that all her machinations have come to naught, there is only one solution left – murder. Add to this secret, hidden rooms, flickering lights, a touch of madness, possible assignations, a skulking detective – and the melodrama pulses with the Gaslight school of cat-and-mouse thrillers that excited theater goers for the first half of the 20th century. And let’s not forget the Yorkie which trots across the stage to the delight of the audience.

DOUBLE DOOR is based on the Wendel legend of a solitary Park Avenue mansion in which the unmarried last of the line died in 1931 at the ripe old age of 78 leaving $100 million and no heirs. And guess what happened during this presentation? The audience got so caught up in the tale that they began to laugh, clap, and in general respond with gusto to the meanderings of the play. The message was clear – turn off cell phones and unwrap candies before the start of the show – but it’s okay to cheer if you feel like it!

Kudos to director Bruce Gray for hitting just the right note of madness and mayhem in this piece. With stunning period costumes designed by Michele Young, a forbidding Victorian set created by Jeff G. Rack, carefully planned lighting by Ric Zimmerman, and the sterling efforts of all of the production team, DOUBLE DOOR portrays a historical period with grace and scary charm. This is a great way to spend an evening (or matinee) if you crave entertainment from a bygone era.