The ghosts in the Ohio River and the Blue Rose Strangler are omnipresent fears, if only in the imagination of the town of Rising Sun, Indiana. The Harper family, on the other hand, is a very real threat: filled with sexual predators, sociopaths and, well, Kevin, they can’t be trusted not to kill each other, much less Elly Kimbel. Deputy Griggs knows the Harper family murdered Elly and he can’t let it go. What’s a law man to do?
Go and conduct exhaustive interviews with the whole family.
“Interrogation” resembles a ghost story more than anything else. With a set cut between the skeletal memories of the Harper home and the deputy’s file-strewn office, reality is shaky at best. Each member of the Harper family lies, blames and slinks away from the light, while we fall deeper and deeper into the labyrinthine untruths they put forward. True to form, the unreliable narrators layer story on story on story keeping you uncertain of every fact on stage.
Black comedies are never particularly easy, but playwright Scott Woldman has chemically bonded humor and distress with the assistance of a cast that works in perfect animosity. Juggling the different narratives and speculation of motivation, Woldman and director Scott Westerman never let a moment linger too long lest we forget that this is only one version of the story.
The ensemble is a vitriolic wonder, their acting full of brutal choices, and, it turns out, brutality is funny as hell. Joanna (Kathy Scambiatterra) the matriarch protects then wearily eviscerates her progeny with equal measure. Maureen (Maria Stephens) regresses from social climbing to speaking only in low growls. Apart from some stagnant blocking, the cast maintains aggressive momentum, always funny, always on beat.
Pulling a rug out from our feet is always a difficult prospect; “the twist” was undone by M. Night Shyamalan. At its core, a good twist is about posing a question that reframes your prejudices of a story. “Interrogation” pulls the rug from under our feet and, in making us forget it was there at all, turns the twist into highly entertaining art. (John Van Ort)
The Artistic Home, 1376 West Grand, (866)811-4111, theartistichome.org, $28-$30. Through March 20.