‘Accomplice’: Twists, twists and more twists in comedic thriller at Bickford Theatre

Accomplice Bickford


Tait Ruppert and Emaline Williams co-star in “Accomplice,” which is at the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, through Feb. 4.

Of course I won’t reveal the big twists that are part of “Accomplice,” the comedic thriller that is currently being presented at the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morris Township. I don’t want to ruin the surprises.

I can’t even tell you how many there are because, honestly, I lost count. Let’s just say, there are a ton of them.

Playwright Rupert Holmes — best known, probably, for making the pop charts with “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” and other songs in the ’70s and ’80s, though he is also a prolific, Tony-winning playwright — takes giddy delight in finding ways to build twist upon twist upon twist. Even better, each one comes as a genuine shock: He doesn’t telescope them in obvious ways, though he does wink playfully at the audience, letting us know he’s self-consciously playing around with the conventions of the comedic thriller.

“That’s exactly how all those plays begin,” one character sighs at the start of the first scene, after making what he thinks is a typical entrance for a comedic thriller.

Perhaps Holmes goes a bit too far in the final twist. At some point, you do become numb to extreme craziness, and Holmes does, arguably, go a little past that point. But this is a minor flaw. Bottom line: “Accomplice” is a lot of fun.

Four actors — Tait Ruppert, Emaline Williams, Lilli Marques and Mike Newman — play two British couples (Derek and Janet, and Jon and Melinda). Derek is rich but lazy; Jon is the star employee who keeps his company profitable. The two couples are spending a weekend together at Derek and Janet’s country cottage (whose modest, earth-toned charm is effectively evoked by scenic designer Jim Bazewicz).

Beyond that, I can’t really say anything about the plot without giving things away, since the twists start at the end of the first scene, and little is what it seems at first.

“Accomplice” was first produced in 1989, and it’s a smart move by the Bickford Theatre’s producing artistic director, Eric Hafen (who also directs this production), to revive it, with Holmes contributing some updated cultural references. It may be nearly 30 years old, but it still feels fresh and bracingly irreverent. I highly recommend it.

“Accomplice” will be at the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, through Feb. 4; visit morrismuseum.org.

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