Northwest NEWS

August 30, 1999


Steamy thriller premieres at ACT

by Deborah Stone

   A Contemporary Theatre continues its 1999 Mainstage Season with the world premiere of a new psychological thriller, Temporary Help, by David Wiltse.

   The inspiration for Temporary Help came from an article that Wiltse read in the New York Times about a Midwest couple who were found guilty of killing their hired hands for money and burying them at adjoining farms.

   This account led Wiltse to write a play about Karl and Faye Streber, a twisted pair who play nasty cat-and-mouse games on a succession of unlucky drifters.

   Karl, played to perfection by Thomas Kopache, is a wiry, violent psychopath who enjoys keeping people off-balance. He takes what he wants in life and doesn't fear the consequences of his actions.

   His wife, Faye, performed by Stephanie Faracy, is high-strung, needy, and dependent on the affections of men to make her feel good. Continuous references to childhood abuse are made throughout the play, which seem to be intended to explain the actions of these characters.

   Faye and Karl feed off each other, knowing exactly where to place their highly charged comments and barbs to do the most damage. Their lives are so tightly wrapped around one another that it's easy to understand why they have stayed together. Enter the virile drifter, Vincent, who arrives at the couple's remote Nebraska farmhouse, and the stakes in this game rise radically.

   Vincent, Chad Allen, comes with his own baggage and history of abuse and violence, along with a deep-seated need to find a place he can call home. The town sheriff, played by John Procaccino, comes nosing around, trying to solve the mystery of the disappearing drifters. He has an eye for Faye, and wants desperately to be her rescuer.

   Each character is an expert manipulator and has his/her own agenda stemming from motives of ambition, greed, lust, and revenge. Throughout the play, there are strong sexual undercurrents and moments of explosive violence which attempts to keep the audience on edge. Steam emanates from these actors, as they play out their parts in this perilous game in which each gets what he or she has earned.

   Although the quality of acting in this performance is excellent, there is a predictable quality to the play. Expectations of these stereotyped characters are easily met and the theme of the play is one that has been explored many times before in similar ways. The audience knows that it is just a matter of time before these characters get their "payday."

   Temporary Help runs through Sept. 12. For ticket information, call 206-292-7676.