Lifestyle

Accomplice

I fear for my life.

Last week I was given a sneak peak at “Accomplice” — the sexy, comedic mystery thriller written by Rupert Holmes — opening Friday at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts under the direction of Tom Harris.

I can’t say much about “Accomplice.” Before I could see the show I practically had to sign my life away. I can divulge that the play — starring Barton Cole, Manette Merrill, Laura Persaud and Jim Scullin — opens to the renovated moorland residence of Dorping Mill. Welcome to 1970s England. From there, I tend to get a little fuzzy and have selective memory. Could be from Harris’s parting words at our interview Thursday.

“Thanks for your time. Write whatever you want, but remember if you say too much we’ll have to kill you,” he said.

He cracked a wacky smile, but ever since I’ve been questioning my safety.

This week I’m not sure who’s on my side, which cast members can be trusted, and if the murderous plot stopped after the rehearsal.

No problem. I’ve seen both “Final Destination” movies — I know how to beat the death rap. I’ve been avoiding chopping vegetables for fear the knives would suddenly Cuisinart me into little pieces. I’ve been taking the round-about way to work to steer clear of the artillery at the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club. I look both ways and look for reflections of Island Transit buses before crossing the street.

I’m aware. I’m awake. I’m still scared.

I started off feeling safe while researching clues about “Accomplice.” I found that Holmes has an extensive resume of writing scripts for theatre, film and television including “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “Solidarity Confinement,” and “Five Savage Men.” As a musician and composure he has released around a dozen albums of his own, and has written hits for others including Barbra Streisand. Holmes received a 2003 Best Play Tony Award nomination for “Say Goodnight Gracie” and “Accomplice” — for which he wrote both the script and composed the accompanying music — brought home the coveted Edgar Award.

“He’s a master script writer. The language and plot are so well crafted,” Merrill said. “Some days we’re not sure if we’re going to figure it all out by the end of the play’s run — this is the type of play you’re going to want to see twice.”

Persaud considers it sneaky, crafty manipulation of language. And as Cole points, nothing is as cut and dry as you might think it appears. (Or are allowed to think with this limited preview of the plot.)

“Just when you start thinking you have it figured out, you don’t,” Scullin said.

“Accomplice” is unique in that Holmes includes pages and pages of director’s notes with the script that give specific guidelines for characters, scenes, sets — even the promotion of the play. While the excessive guidelines might appear restricting, the cast agrees they’re anything but.

“They’ve enabled us to more quickly reach for the soul of our characters,” Persaud said.

For the actors in “Accomplice”, it’s been an exercise in being completely present with the text and their presence in the play, Merrill said.

“As an actor in this production you’re constantly on the edge.”

In addition to thrills, also expect to laugh. After all, Holmes is the same man that penned for eternity “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”.

“There are lots of elements of sport in the storyline and there’s even a scene where he pokes fun at the mystery genre,” Harris said. “He obviously likes poking fun at some of the same popular culture he helped create.”

But, “If you like Pina Colada’s ...” that’s not what you’re gonna get with this play. It’s bold adult content complete with profanity and nudity. Harris said the steamy elements are no more than what is found on television and that how racy the storyline becomes is up to the audience members.

“What ends up happening in their imagination so far above what actually happens on stage,” he said.

Well, imagination must have gotten the best of me.

Remember, when paranoid, nothing can be assumed innocent. After I saw “Accomplice” I dreamt I ran into Barton Cole and his wife Joni Takanikos at The Star Store and overheard what people would normally mistake as simple grocery shopping.

“Yes, we need milk.”

“We don’t need eggs. We have at least five, no six.”

In my paranoid state I heard a little different translation.

“Yes, we should kill Cynthia.”

“I think we should stab her five, no six times.”

Aggghhh!

I could be telling the truth about all of this. WARNING: I could not. (No Record reporters were harmed in the creation of this article).

I just can’t wait until opening night when I won’t be the only witness. And hopefully someone else will be the aim of the crime.

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