Victory Gardens.

The best parts of Douglas Post’s suspense thriller have absolutely nothing to do with the murder alluded to in the title. Or even with the various Sleuth-like reversals Post laboriously plants (most of which unfold so slowly only the stupidest members of the audience are really surprised). Rather, Post’s gift as a playwright lies in how well he re-creates the feel of suburban anomie–the lonely, loveless marriages, the fashionably decorated houses and their equally fashionably decorated owners, who never quite feel at home in their spanking-new surroundings. That sense of alienation is underscored in this Victory Gardens production by James Dardenne’s brilliant, beautiful, but very cold set, with its sharp corners, gray pink walls, and expensive-looking but uncomfortable furniture.

Likewise Post’s characters–the weary, cruel real estate developer, his beautiful (but oddly sex-starved) wife, the hapless good-hearted neighbor, and his intensely neurotic but very smart spouse–feel like 90s versions of the sort of sick suburbanites who populate Updike novels or 60s sitcoms. As the play’s central couple, Si Osborne and Pamela Gray, both brilliant, by the way, come off as a twisted version of Rob and Laura Petrie, or what the Petries would have become if Laura were an omnivorous sex-starved wife and Rob her murderously jealous husband.

Sadly, black comedy is not what Post is after, and all too quickly we are thrust into the sort of lame suspense plot only shallow suburbanites would love.