Murder and mayhem, chills and thrills are on the schedule at several Long Island theaters in the coming weeks. There’s something for everyone from a classic psychological thriller from the ’60s to a trio of quirky plays with unexpected twists by more contemporary writers.
Kyle Filiault, left, Sarah Berger, Kevin Mundy, Giovanni Marine,and Ariana Velasquez star in “Den of Thieves” at the Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara
‘DEN OF THIEVES’
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. March 24-25 and 7 p.m. March 26 at 7 p.m., Cultural Arts Playhouse, 170 Michael Dr., Syosset
INFO $20; eventbrite.com
This 2004 dark comedy by Stephen Adly Guirgis (whose “Between Riverside and Crazy” recently closed on Broadway) has nothing to do with the 2018 Gerard Butler heist film. It’s one of Guirgis’ early plays, says director Andrew J. Beck, and you start to see a lot of the things he writes about begin to take shape, specifically his focus on 12-step programs.
It centers on a young woman in a program for recovering thieves who teams up with her sponsor and two others to steal what they believe is unguarded drug money. Things don’t go as planned and they spend Act 2 bargaining for their lives. “One of Guirgis’ strengths is that he highlights characters you rarely see on stage,” says Beck, which is why our troupe “loves doing this stuff.”
But behind the macabre humor, Beck says there’s a positive message: “These characters are trying to improve themselves.”
‘A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE’
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. April 14-15 and 20-22 at 8 p.m. and 3 p.m. April 16, South Shore Theater Experience, 115 S. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst
INFO $25; 631-669-0506, southshoretheatre.com
Martin McDonagh has been called “the bad boy of Irish drama,” but he sets this 2010 play in fictional small-town America. An Oscar nominee this year for writing, producing and directing “The Banshees of Inisherin,” McDonagh tells the odd story of a troubled soul who’s been searching for the hand he lost in his youth. Like many of his plays, says director John J. Steele Jr., McDonagh “takes innocent things and gives them interesting twists … it’s not uproariously funny, but there’s definitely humor.”
The language is as seedy as the hotel room where the action takes place (leave the kids at home, says Steele), as two young pot dealers try to sell him a hand that’s clearly not his. But he’s dedicated his life to the search, says Steele, which is pretty much the point. He knows the missing appendage can’t be reattached, but he believes “it’s rightfully his and he should have it.”
WAIT UNTIL DARK
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. April 14-15, 21-22 and 28-29 and 2 p.m.; April 16, 22-23 and 30, Bayway Arts Center, 265 Main St., East Islip
INFO $40, $35 seniors; 631-226-8400, studiotheatrelongisland.com
“Even if you’ve seen the movie, there’s something different about seeing it live,” says director Michael Blangiforti about Frederick Knott’s “Wait Until Dark.” The 1967 film, starring Oscar-nominated Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman terrorized by hoods searching her home for a doll filled with heroin, is a true nail-biter, particularly in its final 30 minutes.
But Blangiforti won’t watch it right now. “I have my own vision of how I want it to look, I haven’t seen the movie for quite some time.” Acknowledging the risks in adapting a movie, especially one as famous as this, he says he’ll work to build up the terrifying end. “I love the suspense,” he says, adding he’ll use lighting and the set to increase the tension. Be warned, he says. “There might be some scary moments for our audiences.”
Three plays by Rupert Holmes, who grew up in Levittown, will be performed this spring, Credit: Getty Images/Neilson Barnard
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. April 21-22, 27-29 and May 5-6 and 2:30 p.m. April 23 and 30 and May 7, Manes Studio Theatre, 141 S. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst
INFO $35, $30 seniors; 631-226-8400, studiotheatreoflongisland.com
It’s a mini Rupert Holmes festival at Studio — along with this 1990 comedy suspenser (winner of the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award), the company this summer is doing the Levittown-raised playwright’s drama “A Time to Kill,” based on the John Grisham film, and his musical “Curtains” at Bayway in May.
“Accomplice” starts out as a typical thriller, says director Frank DiSpigno, but where it goes from there — as the saying goes, if we told you, we’d have to kill you. “It’s fantastic the way he twisted this thing,” DiSpigno says. “By the end of the show, the audience is completely looped out.” There are thousands of bad mysteries out there, he says, “they’re wordy and plotless and make you go to sleep.”
This show is entertaining and engaging, DiSpigno adds, with the familiar elements of a thriller embellished with comic situations — like maniacal actors not happy with their makeup. “I saw it on Broadway and thought it was the cleverest thing I’d ever seen,” he says.