By Mark D. Kaufmann
Cast: 5m., 2w. As one critic describes the recent premiere at the Denver Center Theatre, "Watching the play uncoil like a spring is a delight. Very quickly the audience is seduced into believing its assortment of improbable characters. One of these is a tycoon corporate raider named Douglas Jensen who has patterned his life on a very simple principle: virtues like honor and respectability don't work. So he doesn't use them. The man dresses like a CEO and thinks like a water moccasin!" His lovely, unfortunate wife, Anna, writes poetry, which he criticizes mercilessly—on a scale of 1 to 100 she rates a pitiful 14. Jensen's next takeover target is a glue factory owned by Lloyd Price, who is desperate to keep his little business. Jensen puts terrible pressure on Lloyd, who manages to hold out. So the amoral Jensen plans the next step-doing away with Lloyd. Meanwhile turnabout becomes fair play as the beleaguered Lloyd, wanting Jensen dead, hires two bumbling hit men. (The chief hit man in the Denver production is described by the Denver Post critic as "one of the comic performances of the year.") The Jensens throw a party, to which they invite Lloyd, and it all comes to a head. The hit men have worked out a Laurel and Hardy poison plan, one posing as the caterer, the other as a waiter with a tray of drinks, which includes a poisoned martini. They fitfully close in on their target despite shifting floor plans and allegiances. The result? Poison flows in surprising directions. "The final scene is pure Orton," a critic suggests, "with a corpse on the bed and people making up wild stories to cover their tracks." Area staging. Approximate Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.