The current show at Company Theatre is Ira Levin's "Deathtrap" which encompasses many plot twists and is essentially a play within a play. "Deathtrap" was the biggest hit on Broadway, opened on February 26, 1978, closed June 13, 1982 and ran for 1809 performances. In 1982 the show was adapted into a movie with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. Levin has taken the basic components of thrillers and horror stories; murder, deceit, innocent dialogue with sinister meanings, plot reversals, unexpected turns of events and twisted and rearranged the pieces again. The play takes place in the Westport, Connecticut home of the famous playwright, Sidney Bruhl who is having a dry spell with his writing and finds himself having trouble writing the next big play. After his last few productions flop at the box office, he becomes desperate. His rich, doting wife Myra is worried about Sidney and encourages him to collaborate with his student at U-Conn, Clifford Anderson. When Cliff shows up at their house is when the twists and turns of the show begin. Add a comic Dutch psychic to the mix and Sidney's stuffy lawyer and you have the ingredients for a spine chilling evening of topnotch action and direction by Peter Carey.
Peter's blocking of the show is topnotch especially when the show throws you a curve from the way you think it is going to go. He enlists strong support from his talented crew. The set designed by Zoe Bradford is excellent, resembling a colonial type of converted stable turned into a country house. It is very realistic looking complete with stone fireplace, wooden paneling, French doors and hardwood floors. The walls are covered with weapons Sydney has used in his past plays and they are used to their utmost in this thriller. The costumes are by Joan Halpert and the lighting design by Jon Sikora especially effective is the lightning scene in the second act.
Heading this cast as the sinister, playwright is Jeff Gill. He has tons of dialogue and stage business to do with the rest of the cast. Jeff commands the stage as Sidney and plays the role with flair, making every move count, leaving the audience on pins and needles as to what happens next. His scenes with Brendan in the second act combat scenes are brilliantly portrayed by both actors. His long suffering wife of 11 years is well played by Kelly Griffen. She delivers the goods in this role as the doting wife who worries about her husband's dry spell and then shocked by some of his actions in the first act. The young playwright Cliff is excellently played by Brendan Mulhern who is tall, dark and handsome. He has a lot of physical scenes and handles them beautifully. Brendan also handles the transition of this young, naive college student into a menacing figure with ease and his angry moments are startling to behold. He recently played Sir Lancelot in "Spamalot" last summer at Company Theatre.
The biggest scene stealer in this show is Sally Ashton Forrest as Helga Ten Dorp, the Dutch psychic. Helga is the best written role and Sally commands the stage in all three of her scenes. She enters as a whirling dervish and her energy never wanes. Helga feels pain in this house, she screams and runs up to the others, scaring the pants off them but it is always done humorously. Sally's best moments occur with the confusion about the name Smith-Corona, that her parents never had to wrap her Christmas presents, that she never lost at hide and seek, and that she received a vision that her daughter is pregnant in Europe. She receives a thunderous ovation after first exit and is well deserved throughout her entire performance. Rounding out the cast is Danny Bolton who plays the stuffy lawyer, Porter Milgrim. He has some clever one liners which garner him the laughter you'd never think a lawyer would receive. His funniest line is about trying to write a play about his favorite Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter. Sally and Danny have a very comic scene at the end of the show which will leave you wondering what's happening and since this is a mystery thriller, you will have to see it to find out what actually occurs. So for an edge of your seat thriller, be sure to catch "Deathtrap" at Company Theatre.