Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Plenty of Big Laughs in Store in ABET's 'Smoke & Mirrors'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Plenty of Big Laughs in Store in ABET's 'Smoke & Mirrors'

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Faulkner, Shorelines correspondent

Plays with twist endings are tricky little devils, particularly when the audience knows the switcheroo is on the way. Like other works, plays with twist endings call on their actors to sell the drama, suspense or comedy. Yet the cast must make its performances so convincing that the audience forgets about just looking for clues to the twist.

The Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre's cast of its production of Will Osborne and Anthony Herrera's Smoke & Mirrors makes such a play work. It's a delight, particularly with a cast this strong.

The comedy/murder mystery focuses on Hamilton and Clark, a movie director and screenwriter, respectively, who are matched with an actor they despise. They worked together on a hit film based in Mississippi that spawned a sequel. Smoke & Mirrors begins when they reunite in Mississippi to finalize Clark's new script.

Ever the artist protecting his words as if they were his children, Clark didn't care for the revisions Hamilton made to his first script and flat refuses to alter the second. Hamilton, with his wife/publicist Barbara in tow, tries to convince Clark that with a few subtle changes that they could make another blockbuster.

The tension builds as Clark and Hamilton disagree on everything except their hatred of their lead actor, Derek. It insults both of the partners' artistic sensibilities to have to work with such a boor, so, after few drinks themselves, Hamilton and Clark hatch a plot to murder him.

As with all best laid plans, the duo's little scheme quickly goes wrong. Clark is left -- literally -- holding the smoking gun. When the county sheriff arrives to make sense of all this, the lies, schemes and double-crosses arise.

Philip Walls as Hamilton and Steve McMahon as Clark play their roles with just the right amount of deceit and respect to make their characters seem like real partners. Through it all, Walls and McMahon make both their hatred of Derek and their stories hysterical yet believable even when the twists develop. …

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