Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

Pack of Lies – Untold Secrets at RVP

Tina Taylor as Barbara Jackson and Tess O’Brien as Julie Jackson in Pack of Lies, an espionage thriller presented by Ross Valley Players. Photo by Robin Jackson.

Ross Valley Players is currently presenting Pack of Lies by Hugh Whitemore and directed by Molly Noble.

Pack of Lies takes place in a suburb of London during the autumn and winter of 1960-1961.  The main events of the story are true.

In 1961, Peter and Helen Kroger (Craig Neibaur and Mary Ann Rodgers), two Americans living in a London suburb who were convicted of spying for the Russians and sentenced to 20 years in prison.  From these true facts, Whitemore writes a powerfully moving fictional account of the events leading up to their arrest.

With the action centered on the totally unsuspecting Jackson household–Bob (Malcolm Rodgers), Barbara (Tina Taylor) and their daughter Julie (Tess O’Brien).  The Jacksons live opposite the Krogers, believing them to be a convivial Canadian couple and their closest friends.  Then a mysterious stranger, Mr. Stewart (Steve Price) arrives announcing he is from MIS and quietly coerces the Jacksons into allowing their house to be used as a surveillance post.  In the nightmare months that follow, the Jackson’s decent, happy life is shattered as the truth about the much loved friends is gradually revealed to them and, helpless in this world of deception and treachery, Barbara reaches a breaking point with the agonizing realization that the Krogers have betrayed her and she, in turn, has betrayed the Krogers.

In her first directorial role with Ross Valley Players, Molly Noble is to be congratulated with only one minor criticism. The pace lags at times.  Her British dialects are quite authentic though at times, hard to understand.  Especially effective were the monologues each character has with the audience where each actor steps out on a platform in front of the set. The split set by Ron Krempetz was excellent and worked very well.  The period was nicely captured and complimented by the costumes of Michael Berg.

Tina Taylor as Barbara Jackson looked wonderfully anxious throughout as she fussed over her wayward daughter, ably played by Tess O’Brien and contrasted beautifully with the exuberant warmth of Mary Ann Rodgers as Helen Kroger.  Craig Neibaur played an enigmatic Peter Kroger who gave nothing away, while Steve Price gave a strong and well paced performance as the mysterious Mr. Stewart, the man from the MIS whose surveillance operation led to the Kroger’s downfall.  Also, the beautifully observed performance of Malcolm Rodgers as the genial, bewildered Bob Jackson was genuinely moving. There were nice supporting performances, especially Melanie Bandera-Hess as Thelma and Livia Demarchi as Sally, the two MIS girls who stay with the Jacksons during the operation.

Pack of Lies is a bit on the “talky” side and demands your strict attention but it is well worth the effort!

Pack of Lies runs January 18-February 17, 2013 at Ross Valley Players Barn Theatre, Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross.  Thursday performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. For reservations call 415-456-9555, ext. 1.

Coming up next at Ross Valley Players will be Enchanted April by Matthew Barber and directed by Cris Cassell, March 14-April 14, 2013.

Flora Lynn Isaacson