There is nothing quite like a good mystery or thriller. I have always enjoyed directing a script that brings a chill to the audience. Here at PCPH, I particularly liked the audience reaction to I’ll Be Back Before Midnight and Angel Street.
My assignment for this year is a bit different. Bad Seed by Maxwell Anderson is more melodrama than mystery – we know from the beginning what is going on. What intrigues me about this script – and the William March novel it is based on – is how the other characters in the play react to what they learn.
At any given moment onstage, secrets threaten to spill out and destroy lives and relationships.
The play was a great success on Broadway.
While the 1950’s has been portrayed as a decade of carefree innocence, the reality is somewhat different. The memory of World War II was still fresh – the threat of worldwide nuclear destruction was omnipresent.
Psychoanalysis was seen as a cure for what was ailing the Miltown generation.
The film version from 1956 featured many of the performers from the Broadway cast. Three of the women involved received Academy Award Nominations (Nancy Kelly as Christine, Eileen Heckert as Mrs. Daigle, and Patty McCormick as Rhoda). Watching it today, the film seems almost fatally stage bound. The performances seemed aimed at not just the balcony of the theater but at the balcony of the theater down the street. The censorship restrictions of the time demanded that the ending be changed. No one could commit a crime and go unpunished onscreen.
As was the custom in films at that time, a bullet through the head was indicated by a pristine white towel wrapped around a barely ruffled hairstyle. And in true Greek drama fashion, the gods punished the guiltiest one.
I hope that we can present Bad Seed in a genuine way.
Certainly it is well-known now for its “camp” value. There is certainly some humor in the script that can be explored, but the questions it poses about relationships and nature versus nurture can still be thought-provoking today.
We are not doing the movie version onstage, instead we are exploring the script in a way that I think will interest you, the audience, and be challenging to us as director and performers. I am looking for actors and actresses with some experience.
I hope we can make Bad Seed a unique experience for all involved.
Jack Randall Earles