As new plays go, the darkly comic, Breaking and Entering, is an intriguing arrival at Zombie Joe’s in North Hollywood, as Bitter Lemons Editor-in-Chief, Colin Mitchell, has been bit by the playwriting bug once again. The story follows W.J. Trumbull, a Salinger-esque famed author, whose hermetic existence is interrupted when an obsessed fan breaks into his home and propels them both into a murky descent of truth, illusion and the mystical power of baseball.
Anyone familiar with the late 60s, early 70s, psychological late night thriller series, Night Gallery, will have an easy time recalling, The Cemetery, the very first episode where a painting is used as a tool for revenge. When Roddy McDowall who stars as an estranged nephew, kills his elderly and immobilized uncle by parking his wheelchair at a cold open window, he later gets his comeuppance in the form of a living painting.
As uncle undead walks out of his cemetery grave one night, pounds on the door, breaks in, makes his way up the stairs and finally turns the bedroom knob, each new bit is chronicled by utter changes in the landscape and scenery of the painting, moment by moment. And no matter what the nephew does physically to the painting, in order to prevent the confrontation, it eventually terrorizes and kills him.
Breaking and Entering is kinda like that (sans the zombie), right down to the almost accidental death of the author’s late wife, except we swap the painting for a novel written by a wiley young woman, Milly, who jumps the fence of the author’s house, supposedly to get him to read her work in order to get published. What we discover, however, is that her real motive is to show the man his own death even instruct him to do it, via the writing, which predicts every sentence spoken and every action perpetrated, unbelievably, but absolutely throughout the encounter. This play, this novel, this character, is about revenge – and it’s really tricky – but woven well enough to tell a pretty darn good story.
The play does have an eerie feeling of being all in Trumbull’s head, with Milly as the chief apparition, but it was hard to tell at times, which makes it juicy, truth be told. The devices of the two men playing the baseball radio announcers who call out so much of the history of the author, the blackout, and more, all lay on thickly the intention of the drama, and mostly we get it. But there are a few holes and it feels like just a little bit of the story is missing, at least the back story which as we find out, sets the female character in motion long before she arrives.
It’s a thriller, so I don’t want to give it away. Suffice it to say, that although Breaking and Entering could use a little work, it is an attention keeper, played by a ferocious Matthew Sklar as the whiskey voiced, bad-tempered, W.J. Trumbull, hilarious and satisfying a plenty for audiences who like a good scheme. Well done.
Nice performances by the entire cast which also includes, Katherine Canipe as Milly Smith, Jerry Chappell as Bob Bennett and Jason Britt as Jack Rolstatter. Written by Colin Mitchell. Directed by Sebastian Munoz. Produced by master of the macabre, Zombie Joe.Now Playing with limited performances left Fridays & Saturdays @ 8:30pm until November 29th ZJU (Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group) 4850 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601 Reservations: (818) 202-4120 Tickets: $15 Website: www.ZombieJoes.com