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Theater Review: Wednesday's Child

SARASOTA – Playwright Mark St. Germain (Freud's Last Session) returns to the Florida Studio Theatre, this time for the world debut of his latest work, Wednesday's Child, a tight, fast-paced thriller that keeps audiences engaged from the time the curtain goes up until the moment it falls.

I first came across St. Germain when I caught Freud's Last Session on Broadway in 2014, though I'd probably seen his work earlier in the form of his time as a writer for such television hits as The Cosby Show and the Law & Order spinoff Crime and Punishment.

I thoroughly enjoyed Freud's Last Session, which imagines a late-in-life existential conversation between Freud and C.S. Lewis, but Wednesday's Child definitely leans more toward his work on Dick Wolfe's show, which is not a bad thing at all. The result is a tense and entertaining mystery that would have made for a great Law & Order episode or movie special.

The opening scene tells us that Becca, a college student, has been murdered. In fact it's an apparition of Becca that does the telling. Through flashbacks, we learn that she was contracted by a couple, Susan and Martin, to be a surrogate for their child.

St. Germain delivers just the right mix of clues, feints, hints and misdirection to keep audiences eagerly guessing throughout, and the ending pays off with a satisfying twist.

Rachel Moulton does a splendid job as Susan, conveying both the desperation and nervous delight of a woman seeking, against the odds, to mother a child. Duke Lafoon gives a solid performance as Martin, her archaeologist husband, who's eager to deliver her happiness.

Brooke Tyler Benson is downright captivating as Becca, while Alicia Taylor Tomasko and David Smilow are the icing on the cake as the two detectives working the case. St. Germain even works in an engaging B-story in Benson's own simultaneous effort to adopt, and the partners' hard-boiled, buddy cop relationship adds a solid layer to the play.

Directed by Kate Alexander, Wednesday's Child runs through May 24 in the Gompertz Theatre. Visit the FST website for ticket and schedule information.


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