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DCT’s ‘Night Watch’ offers evening of mystery, intrigue

Douglaston Community Theater's spring presentation, "Night Watch," is an intriguing mystery.

The murdered body is seen only for a brief instant, when a window shade is pulled up and then pulled down. There is no body! In fact, the police investigate thoroughly and are at a loss to know whether a crime has even been committed.

The story has many elements - diagnoses of chronic insomnia and extreme neurosis suffered by the leading character, Mrs. Elaine Wheeler, to name a few.

As the play opens, Mrs. Wheeler, played by Linda Hanson (who has previously directed many plays for DCT) is singing, "Brother John, are you sleeping?" She paces the spacious living room, trying to find something that will enable her to sleep. It is five o'clock in the morning, and she has been awake for three nights!

Mrs. Wheeler is quite definitely neurotic, and does a lot of screaming. She sees a dead man in a green wing chair through the apartment window in another building. Her screams bring her husband, John, downstairs to see what the commotion is all about.

John Wheeler, who is very solicitous, tries to get his wife to agree to take a long vacation at a sanitarium in Switzerland, since he does not believe she saw anything. She insists that he call the police; this starts a sequence of strange events. Glen J. Beck makes his debut at DCT as the enigmatic John Wheeler.

The Wheeler maid is a German woman who has cooked and kept house for the couple in their home in Kipps Bay. She is quirky and very curious about the events in the household. She cares about Madam but is suspicious of the husband. Cathy Cosgrove, an active actress in Queens community theater, plays Helga with aplomb.

Elaine Wheeler's best friend, and house guest, is Blanche Cooke, portrayed by Ginger Witt. Blanche is tall, blonde and a schemer. She spins very tall tales and makes Elaine very suspicious that there is something going on between Blanche and John Wheeler.

Dean Schildkraut is excellent as an eccentric neighbor, Curtis Appleby, who pops in and out - ostensibly gathering news for his local paper, The Kipps Bay Tattler. Schildkraut studied at Arena Theater and the Creative Acting Company.

Barbara Mavro plays Dr. Tracy Lake, a Mount Sinai head psychiatrist who is asked by John Wheeler to visit the house and interview his wife. He wants the doctor's opinion as to whether his wife is mentally competent and to persuade her to go to the sanitarium in Switzerland. Lake is a genuine down-to-earth doctor - but there is something in her manner that Elaine Wheeler finds comforting.

Eugene Sullivan, a veteran DCT director, directed Night Watch for DCT.

If you want to know the ending, go see the play at the Zion Church Parish Hall in Douglaston on Northern Boulevard.

Performances are Fridays, May 11, 18, Saturdays May 12, 19, at 8 p.m. For reservations, call 718 482 3332.

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