“REAR WINDOW:” OPEN IF YOU DARE


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Telling Kevin Bacon to “break a leg” as he stars in the world premiere drama “Rear Window” at the Hartford Stage until Sunday, November 15 would be redundant. The popular actor has already broken a leg in the premise of this taut and suspenseful tale that is based on a short story penned in 1942 by Cornell Woolwich and an Academy Award winning movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954 that starred James Stewart and Grace Kelly.

Wheel-chair bound Bacon plays Hal Jeffries, a big city newspaper reporter whose active byline has been sidelined by an accident. Now in the sweltering heat of a 1947 New York summer, he is confined to his tiny apartment with only a radio for entertainment. He amuses himself playing observer or, better yet, spy of the neighbors he can view from his rear window.

Watching old women planting tomatoes, honeymooners beginning married life, a dancer practicing her craft and workmen repairing an apartment for occupancy, Jeffries lets his imagination run wild. A knock on his door brings Sam (McKinley Belcher III) into his lonely life. Sam had struck up a conversation with “Jeff” at a bar, supporting the theory that he lives on cigarettes and alcohol, and now claims he was hired to be his helper.

Sam wants to make Jeff’s life easier but he is soon swept into the intrigue when the invalid claims to have witnessed a murder. Across the way, a couple (Melinda Page Hamilton and Robert Stanton) are experiencing marital problems that are only exacerbated by the intense heat. As the temperature rises, their relationship wilts until Jeff is convinced the husband Thorwald has murdered his wife.

To prove he is right, Jeff involves a policeman friend Boyne (John Bedford Lloyd) to investigate and sends Sam to do undercover detective work. Has the heat and boredom driven Jeff over the edge or has a real crime been committed? Darko Tresnjak keeps the mystery ping-ponging with tension and doubt in this stage adaptation by Keith Reddin. Alexander Dodge has created a superb apartment set that dramatizes the action and deserves credit as the secondary star of the show.

For tickets ($35 and up), call Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. ( and occasional 7:30 p.m.) While all performances have been sold out since August, it is worth trying for a cancellation at the last minute or a standing room only ticket to this 90 minute, no intermission, production.

Prepare to be caught up in the thrill of the chase as a captivating Kevin Bacon portrays a man pursuing the truth, even if it may kill him.

 

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