Theatre Review: Ravenscroft at Circle Players

PISCATAWAY, NJ—Despite its name,  this theater is in the shape of a rectangle.

This doesn’t leave room for an elaborate set, forcing the audience to absorb both the action and dialogue.

When done right, these  constraints can make one feels like part of the action. This was the case with Ravenscroft, and Director Alicia Harabin made excellent use of Circle’s confined space.

In the tradition of English parlor mysteries, Ravenscroft—part of playwright Don Nigro’s Inspector Ruffing series, is set on a snowy night in an isolated English Manor house. Patrick Roarke, the only man in this house occupied with five tempting women is found dead at the bottom of the stairs.

Sent to investigate is dashing Inspector Ruffing, played to the fullest by Thom Boyer. Thom was so convincing, I debated whether to wait around and ask him if he was English.

Ruffing’s foil as he seeks to find the culprit and the truth through a mired of contradictions and accusations is Mrs. Ravenscroft, a flirtatious and witty matriarch.

Cody Dalton is enjoyable as this society matron whose charming and deliberate subterfuge, matches Ruffing’s determination at every plot twist.

Rounding out the rest of this fine cast is: Debbie Campanali as Marcy, the alluring Governess with secrets, Roxanne Guarino as the somewhat deluded Gillian, Donna Petito as the hotheaded cook Mrs. French, and Kristin Bennett as Dolly, the slow witted and hapless pregnant maid.

Ravenscroft is an entertaining traditional night of theater, well worth the ride to Piscataway.

The next Circle Players show is Romeo and Juliet, scheduled to open on April 25.  The theater is located at 416 Victoria Avenue.