Theatre Mirror Reviews"Deathtrap"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The second show of The Community Players' 95th season is "Deathtrap", a thriller by Ira Levin. Brian Mulvey directs this show with keen insight to guide his five member cast with all the clever twists and turns of this script that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. This show takes place in the Westport, Connecticut home of famous playwright, Sidney Bruhl who is having a dry spell with his writing and is trying to write his current script. Unfortunately he has had a string of failures and is suffering from a shortage of funds. Just in time, a former student sends him a manuscript that promises to be a hit. His rich, doting wife, Myra is worried about her husband and encourages Sidney to collaborate with Clifford Anderson, his writing student from U-Conn. With his wife's help, Sidney devises a plan to murder the young playwright and take the credit for himself. The show is filled with twists and turns and is sprinkled with humor. Mr. Levin throws in a comic Dutch physic and a stuffy lawyer to add chills to the proceedings which keeps the audience guessing until the final curtain falls.

Brian's blocking of the show is excellent especially during the action scenes when it throws you a curve that you don't expect. His crew does a terrific job, too. The set is magnificent and resembles a converted stable in a country house. The stone fireplace, the wooden paneling, French doors and staircase add to the realistic atmosphere. The walls are covered with the weapons that Sidney used in each of his past thrillers and they are used to the utmost in this thriller, too. Marvelous lighting and sound is by Dan Fisher. Stage manager Lynn Price keeps things running smoothly all night long. Brian out does himself with this set for this show.

Heading this cast as the sinister playwright is Richard Koster. He commands the stage in this role with his tons of dialogue and stage business. Richard runs the gamut of emotions in this role. He plays it with flair and makes the audience guess what will happen next. His long suffering wife of 11 years is played by Michelle Walker . She is remarkable as Myra and gives the character a backbone to stand up to Sidney's machinations. Her mannerisms and facial expressions capture the changing moods the role calls for. The young playwright, Cliff is played by Jeff Ararat. He is dynamic as Cliff with his many physical scenes in the show. Jeff handles them wonderfully that you don't know will happen next. He handles the transition from naive student into a menacing figure with ease.  He is especially impressive in the angry scene in Act 2.

The biggest scene stealer of the night is Karen Kessler as Helga Ten Torp, the Dutch physic. Helga is the best written character in this show and Karen commands the stage in all of her three scenes. She enters as a whirling dervish and her energy never wanes. Helga feels pain in this house, runs up to the others, scaring the pants off them but it is done tongue in cheek. Karen's best moments occur with the confusion of the name Smith-Corona and that she received a vison that her daughter is pregnant in Europe. She receives a thunderous ovation on a job very well done. Rounding out this cast is Rick Braun, who plays the stuffy lawyer, Porter Milgrim. He has some clever one liners which garner him many laugh that you wouldn't expect a lawyer to get. Rick and Karen have a very comic scene in this show that will leave you wondering what's happening and since this is a mystery thriller, you will have to witness it to find out what happened. So for an evening of thrills and chills with some topnotch acting and direction, be sure to catch "Deathtrap" at Community Players. It will keep you riveted to your seat

"Deathtrap" (8 - 17 January)
@ Jenks Auditorium, Division Street, PAWTUCKET RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide