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entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"Deathtrap"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Players third show of their 94th season is Ira Levin's thriller, "Deathtrap". John Mutter, a 50 year member of this club, directs the show with a firm and steady hand so that his five cast members deliver the necessary twists and turns to keep the interest of the audience. The play takes place in the Westport, Connecticut home of famous playwright, Sidney Bruhl who is having a dry spell with his writing. His rich, doting wife, Myra is worried about Sidney and encourages him to collaborate with Clifford Anderson, his student at U-Conn. Mr. Levin throws in a comic Dutch physic and a stuffy lawyer to add to the chills which keeps you guessing until the final curtain falls.

John's blocking of the play is wonderful especially when it throws you a curve from the way you think it is going to go. He uses his expertise throughout the evening and enlists strong support from his talented crew, too. The set designed by Dan Clement is magnificent, resembling a converted stable in a country house so well you want to move into it. The scenic painting by Eleanor Boober adds to the realistic atmosphere complete with stone fireplace, wooden paneling, French doors and staircase. The walls are covered with the weapons Sidney has used in his past thrillers and they are used to their utmost in this thriller, too. Bravo to John and his staff.

Heading this cast as the sinister, playwright is Richard Wilbur. He has tons of dialogue and stage business to do with the rest of the cast. Richard plays the role with flair, making his every move count,leaving the audience to guess what will happen next. His long suffering wife of 11 years is played by Kathleen Oliverio. She is a brilliant actress who really delivers the goods in this role. Kathleen surpasses the acting talents of the actress I saw do this role on Broadway many years ago, by giving Myra a backbone to stand up to Sidney's machinations. Her facial expressions and mannerisms fit the changing moods that the role demands, showing her acting strength. The young playwright is played by Michael Templeton. He has a lot of physical scenes in this show and he handles them so wonderfully, you never know what is going to happen next. Michael handles the transition of this young, naive student into a menancing figure with ease. "Deathtrap" marks his debut with Players and! Michael makes it an impressive one.

The biggest scene stealer of the night is Jane Fierstein as Helga Ten Torp, the Dutch physic. Helga is the best written role in the show and this veteran actress of over 40 years commands the stage in all of her three scenes. Jane 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. Jane's best moments occur with the confusion about the name Smith-Corona and that she received a vision her daughter is pregnant in Europe. She receives a thunderous ovation after her first exit and it is well deserved throughout her entire performance. Welcome back to the stage! Rounding out this cast is another veteran actor, Joseph Riker, Jr. who plays the stuffy, lawyer Porter Milgrim. He has some clever one liners which gets him the laughs you never think a lawyer would receive. Joseph and Jane have a very comic scene in this show which will leave you wonderin! g what's happening and since this is a mystery thriller, you will have to see it to see what actually happens.

So for an evening of thrills and chills, be sure to catch "Deathtrap" at Players. To join this theatre club just give Lydia a call or email her at theplayers1909@aol.com You won't be disappointed.

"Deathtrap" (25 January - 2 February)
THE PLAYERS
Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit Street, PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 273-0590

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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