Premiere of 'Rear Window' With Kevin Bacon: Loved The Set
Though the name on the marquee of the sold-out run of this world premiere at Connecticut’s Hartford Stage is Kevin Bacon, the real stars of “Rear Window” are the windows — not to mention the disappearing walls, the revolving floors and the epic, multi-storied tenement on stage, designed spectacularly by Alexander Dodge.
Like Alfred Hitchcock’s famous single set of the 1954 film (the largest indoor set in Paramount’s history at the time), place is as primary as plot. Both Hitchcock and playwright Keith Reddin take the 1942 short story by Cornell Woolrich as their atmospheric starting point, then go their separate ways in deepening the mysteries of urban isolation, sexuality, madness and murder in this post-war setting.
Hitchcock (and screenwriter John Michael Hayes) added romance, warmth and wit to their adaptation. Reddin incorporates Woolrich’s personal dark history into the character of crime writer Hal Jeffries (Bacon), holed up in his apartment with a broken leg and peering into the drama of the daily lives around him. Director Darko Tresnjak, in his first new play project since nabbing a Tony Award for the musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” collaborates with many of the same design team here to create another stylish world of intrigue and death.
But this time there’s an emotional chill in the air despite the sultry summer-before-A.C. era of the play. The heightened melodrama of stage noir has its limits, and though the show boasts stunning production values, a star presence and a brand name title, cleaner plotting and deeper connections are needed for the project to resonate with audiences and for the production to move forward.