Lansing Community College Performing Art’s, “Belle Moral,” has four instances of manufactured fog that drifts across the stage. Another kind of “fogginess” can be found throughout the play.
Anne-Marie MacDonald’s script is set in 1899 Scotland. Unamplified lines delivered with appropriate accents — often, with backs turned to the audience — can cause foggy comprehension. The play’s dialogue touches on morality, evolution, rights of women, eugenics, marriage, science, art, paleontology, new thought, the meaning of life and more.
For most of “Belle Moral,” we are kept in the dark about who or what is hidden in the attic.
Mystery and anticipated reveals are welcome facets to the over-two-hour-with-intermission play. Besides sophisticated topics and an intellectual foundation, “Belle Moral” is also a suspenseful, gothic, who-dunnit.
Occasional chuckles are truly moments of comic relief from shadowy and erudite speech. Mike Shalley as Young Farleigh, gets the most laughs as a doddering old servant.
As Victor MacIsaac, Caleb Tracy earns guffaws with bawdy humor, wit and sharp insults. Tracy splendidly portrays a volatile and brash-yet-educated brother.
Rachael Steffens shines the brightest in the role of Pearl MacIsaac, a young scientist. Steffens masters endless, complex discourse and dramatic mood changes.
Bartley Bauer’s striking and multipart, two-level, 3-D set fills the wide Dart Auditorium stage. Extensive and detailed properties by Kelly McNabb and classy period costumes by Chelle Peterson — who also designed spot-on, authentic sounds — contributed much to the gothic atmosphere.
“Belle Moral” can be thought provoking and mind-boggling. Maybe it’s best to not over-analyze it. As Victor said, “The question used to be what is the meaning of life. Now we ask, ‘Is there any meaning?’”
Nov. 8-9, 8 p.m., Nov. 10, 2 p.m
500 N. Capitol Ave., Lansing
(517) 483-1122, lcc.edu/services