Brian, a true-crime author with a murky past, gets to hear the story of a murder that hasn’t occurred yet when the murderer-to-be knocks on his door to share his plan to kill the lawyer next door. How could a true-crime author refuse a story where he gets to interview both the killer and the victim before the crime even happens? Brian’s morality is torn apart as the killer’s plan progresses, and he finds himself an unwitting accomplice in the grim pursuit.
Stranger in the Attic is a perfect Halloween play, although its run time extends into November. It is equal parts funny and thrilling, pulling off some genuine jumpscares and moments of tension. Building on its unique premise, the script is filled with delightful twists and manages to keep the audience hooked for the next revelation. While it is possible to piece together the key to the mystery with the elements the play provides, it is likely to surprise you and scratch that “whodunnit” itch.
Off the Wall Theatre provides a simple but efficient décor: a modern living room where the action unfolds. It’s the actors who carry the script, and they do so magnificently. Robert Zimmerman gives Brian a believable feeling of uncertainty, as the main moral dilemma is purely concentrated in his character’s mind. But it’s during interactions with the wannabe killer, Kendrick (Coltyn VonDeylen), that the duo shine.
VonDeylen displays the fun kind of insanity, pushing the audience to the edge of their seats as it’s impossible to guess what his next move will be; Kendrick’s mere presence on stage is enough to fear for a character’s life. The couple next door, embodied by James Feeley and Caitlin Kujawski Compton, provides most of the laughs with a different flavor of craziness in a show where everyone is, to some degree, mentally unwell.