The world-famous Charles Lindbergh kidnapping case spawned a web of mystery. One person to become haplessly entangled in the tragedy was Violet Sharp (Meredith Bishop), a 27-year old domestic in the Lindbergh household, whose defiant attitude and evasive answers to routine police questioning aroused suspicion. Playwright William Cameron structures his melodrama around the obsessive pursuit of Violet's confession by police inspector Harry Walsh (David Hunt Stafford). Hunt and other authorities persuaded themselves of Violet's complicity, despite flimsy evidence and the unwavering endorsement she received from the Lindberghs themselves. The play scores points for its observations about women and class and the dangerous proclivities of some men to distort facts for the sake of their own compulsive desire for closure. But the production, under David Coleman's direction, leaves much to be desired. While she nails a couple of moments near the end, Bishop's housemaid comes off more sullen than sassy (in contrast to the historical accounts), while Hunt's driven cop gives off bombast but no heat. Amy Lloyd does respectable triple duty as a tongue-wagging sister, a secretary and a nurse. Many supporting performances are overly dramatic or under rehearsed or both. Random blocking, gratuitous videography, Jeff Rack's drab set, and Jeremy Pivnick's indifferent lighting underscore the more pivotal problems with the acting and direction. Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills; (in rep, call for schedule); thru March 12. (310) 364-0535.
Sat., Feb. 7, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Mondays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 7. Continues through March 12, 2009