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An Old Mystery

The Alley finds little new in Angel Street, but that doesn't stop it from being entertaining

Playing the weasel, Mr. Manningham, John Feltch gets better and better as Mr. Manningham gets meaner and meaner to his wife. By the end of the play, Mr. Manningham, who wears his pants hitched up over his belly like an oily, third-rate gangster, is practically evil personified. At one point, he imagines that he could have been an actor. And clearly he's right. There's no telling what a man like Mr. Manningham will do in the end.

Amy McKenna makes a lovely and saucy Nancy. Though she's a maid that any self-respecting Victorian housewife would fire on day one, poor Mrs. Manningham has had the self-respect tongue-lashed right out of her, and thus can only suffer her servant's coquettish ways. McKenna has terrific energy and charisma on-stage.

But this production's star is Ross Bickell as Rough, a retired police inspector who wants more than anything to get his man. He is, as his name implies, a diamond in the rough who carries Scotch whiskey in his coat pocket and slurps tea with all the manners of a billy goat. Manners, it seems, are of no consequence to the manly types engaged in solving crimes. Bickell's Rough is funny, smart and a bit of a bully himself, and the whole production takes off when he first steps on-stage.

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If these characters sound like stereotypes, it's because they've become so, generated as they were by successful originals such as Patrick Hamilton's play. And though the Alley's production brings nothing new or brilliant to the play, that won't keep you from dying to find out just who did do it.

Angel Street plays through February 7 at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas, 228-8421.

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