New Edgecliff Theatre’s contribution to the 2011 Fringe Festival, Catie O’Keefe’s Darker, has an enticing ambiance (at Know Theatre). The sparse set features a number of bare light bulbs that at times are blindingly bright and at others pulsing or dim. The effect is garish and mesmerizing, appropriate for a play with themes like anger, unrequited love and lost memory.
Max, carefully brought to life by Michael Carr, arrives in the drab and poorly lit office building of a light bulb manufacturer to start a new job he did not apply for.
He is quickly given a desk by his bewitching boss Lucy, played by a very sultry Mindy Heithaus. Max immediately feels as though he’s missing something, that he’s been here before — he wonders if he’s “déj�-vuing.” Lucy and their third office mate, Tom (Jeffrey C. Miller), whose desk Max usurps, are hiding something.
All three actors are capable and watchable. And they are well-cast, appearing comfortable in their roles and clear on their wants. But the script seems to limit each of them to just one or two notes emotionally. Max is confused as he struggles to resurrect his memory. Tom is nervous and a little desperate, dropping cryptic hints about Max’s past, and Lucy sheds her clothing, obsessed with a man who doesn’t love her back.
Well-acted and suitably eerie, Darker lays the questions on thick and withholds the answers until the very final moments.