Someone's Trying to Kill Me
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
November 22, 2011
Suspense is always so suspenseful in the movies. No doubt, the presence of film clips (both from the 1950s and of the actors in this production) heightens the suspense in this period piece. But it also stimulates the audience to question the reality of the story, so that Someone’s Trying to Kill Me might provocatively be renamed “Is someone trying to kill me?” You will spend the whole performance trying to decide.
In 1951, sisters Olivia (Rachelle Guiragossian) and Dylan (Osa Wallander) get their first television set. They have lived together since the death of their father, a driving force at the local factory. At some points they claim that they killed their father, at others that he got drunk and hurt himself.
Olivia invites Walter (Ryan Colwell) over to celebrate his birthday and, seeing that she is all of 26, hopes that he will propose to her. Walter is very unresponsive, and Olivia kicks him out of the house, deciding to live her life through watching TV. The TV programs, as well as interior dialogue and shots of the sisters whenever they venture out of the house, are projected on the wall. Olivia apologizes to Walter and takes him on a walk to the creek, but he falls down unconscious. Is he dead?
Walter is soon seen late at night prowling around their house with a flashlight, and as usual barely takes notice of them. Soon we see some other scenes with Walter, approximately the present day. He is a Hollywood screenwriter renting an old house where two sisters once lived, and isn’t it a shame what happened to them? Walter writes the sisters into his screenplay, and is urged by his agent to kill them off, because if they survive no one will want to see the movie. The sisters gradually become aware of their fate, but it is unclear who is going to kill them and when. We also see some interviews with the townspeople about the decline and closure of the local factory, and an interview with what looks like an older Olivia and Dylan, who discuss how they let their father die.
The “upstate” town where the story takes place seems to have died since the 1950s, just as we are told the movie industry is on the wane. As per the show’s program: “the lack of nurturing and support of motivated ideas in both areas leads to decay and stagnation of the American dream.”
Bryan Santiago is the writer, director and co-producer of this “cinematic theatrical performance.” He, as well as the leading ladies, also works in Los Angeles, and it shows in the strength of the video segments. Bianca Butti and Jason Wood’s cinematography shows a crucial, contrasting side of the story, and includes a large and wonderful supporting cast. Starlet Jacobs’s set has '50s charm, while Brandon Baruch’s lighting slowly throws it into neglect. Alexa Dexa’s sound makes those chase scenes even scarier.