Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Dangerous Corner
SF City Theatre Company
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's review of Of Serpents and Sea Spray and Patrick's review of Star Trek Live!: Mudd's Women

Adrienne Dolan and David Richardson
Photo by Gary Carr
The relatively new SF City Theatre Company is presenting J. B. Priestley's Dangerous Corner, an intriguing piece of theatre that first saw the light of day back in 1932. It was the author's first work for the stage and ahead of its time, with references to homosexuality, drug-taking, and infidelity—subjects that were rarely mentioned in theatrical productions of the thirties. The melodrama is seldom performed today.

A self-satisfied little group of wealthy people are at a dinner party in England. They are dressed in tuxes and period gowns and they have gathered in the living room of a mansion or townhouse. They are representatives of the fortunate in their society, prosperous, rising, and prominent. Several are in the highly successful publishing business. Also there is novelist Miss Mockridge, who gently jeers, "What a snug little group you are ... in these days almost too good to be true". Missing from this group is the brother, brother-in-law, and close friend who died violently by suicide one year before.

The plot centers on the dead brother and why he committed suicide. There is a rumor that he he stole money from the firm and shot himself out guilt. There is an unintentional discussion about "letting sleeping dogs lie," a thoughtless admiration of a musical cigarette box, inconsequential questions, and suddenly the truth of why he killed himself. The sluggish conversation in this two-hour production starts to speed up and grows accusatory. Each person in the group is hiding one little lie about the suicide.

The production at the Royce Gallery remains true to the original style and you should remember that you are witnessing an early 1930s play with very melodramatic acting on the part of the assemble. The cast and director David Acevedo do a splendid job of reviving the play. The performances provide fascinating viewing and the actors never deviate from the earnestness of their roles, even when the plot starts to become slightly laughable.

C. J. Smith gives a genuine portrayal of Robert the head of the publishing firm, a satisfied man whose world is being smashed to pieces. Mary Waterfield, Adrienne Dolan, David Richardson, Deborah Joves and Lukas Hoag deserve equal acclaim for their understandings of similarly troubled characters. The cast is completed by Anastasia Durbula as authoress Maude Mockridge, who watches enthralled in the early stages of the family's exposures being revealed. The ending is a surprise.

Set designer Henry Sellenthin has done a great job of presenting an upscale 1930s British sitting room on an extremely small stage. Maria Graham's costumes are outstanding period clothing, especially the gowns worn by the women.

Dangerous Corner runs through January 24th, 2016, at The Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa Street, San Francisco. Tickets are available at

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