Review of Locked Ward at First Run Theatre

    Locked Ward is the current offering at First Run Theatre. The play’s title is also its setting. The action takes place in a psychiatric ward in 2003. Amy Crider’s script is part character study, part murder mystery.

    A nurse’s death is the source of the mystery. Her body is found on the ward late at night. When the patients hear a report on television about suspicions of four play, they decide to look into the death themselves.

    Investigating a suspected crime is in the wheelhouse of one of the ward’s residents. He is Glen (Ethan Isaac), a former policeman. He lost his job and fell into addiction after a traumatic incident on the job. The other patients are

    • Franklin (Duncan Phillips), a stickler for routine and a Star Trek fan who admires the Vulcan logic of Mr. Spock
    • Vladimir (Stephen Thompson Sr.), a feisty Russian émigré
    • Jill (Jalani Hale), whose electroconvulsive therapy affects her memory
    • Eleanor (Uche Ijei), who is on the ward voluntarily

    Crider’s script gives the patients distinctive personalities, which are presented convincingly by the First Run cast under Phil Gill’s direction.

    The healthcare professionals on the ward are persuasively caring and capable in the First Run portrayals. Dr. Blumenthal, the psychiatrist, is Jaz Tucker. Linda, the occupational therapist, was Gwynneth Rausch on opening night. Linda. Rausch, the stage manager, was filling in for an ailing colleague.

    The production takes place in a suitable environment thanks to set designers Brad Slavik (set), Jenn Ciavarella (sound), and Tony Anselmo (lighting). The setting in the past is emphasized by the presence of a pay telephone and a picture tube television.

    In future productions, the playwright should try to reduce the number and length of pauses between scenes.

    Locked Ward continues through August 21 in the Kranzberg Black Box Theatre, 501 North Grand Boulevard.

    —Gerry Kowarsky

    Photo by Phil Gill
    From left, Jaz Tucker as Dr. Blumenthal and Ethan Isaac as Glen in
    Locked Ward at First Run Theatre