DOUBLE INDEMNITY (At Stoneham Theatre through Nov. 4th) is based on the 1944 classic Billy Wilder film starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson. The Wilder/Raymond Chandler script (from the James M. Cain serial novels about a real 1927 murder case) has been adapted for the stage by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright.
It’s extremely difficult to effect noir atmosphere in a theatrical setting (although director Joe Antoun did it brilliantly this past month at the BCA with Joe Byers’ THE FAKUS). To achieve noir, the acting has to be stylized, to fit the stilted dialogue.
Christopher Ostrom’s grainy B&W projections (onto sliding white panels) dovetail with Nathan Leigh’s almost subliminal thumping drumbeats to ratchet up the suspense but director Weylin Symes’ naturalistic tone for the actors shifts us forward at least ten years to the Actor’s Studio. Gone is the Chandler-esque repartee and alas, with it the “audacity” (as the insurance investigator brags about his scheme) of film noir.