Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) Death Trap

(from the company website)
When Playwrights Kill It
by Jim Murchison

Ira Levin was a master of suspense when Stephen King was a neophyte. Deathtrap was the longest running comedy thriller on Broadway and a hit movie as well. For those that have seen it they need no synopsis and as the director's notes state, anyone that doesn’t know the play doesn’t want to know anything before seeing it. It would kill the fun.
The set design by Mike Heffernan is terrific. An A frame chalet style home serves as a work space and museum for the macabre. The walls are adorned with weapons, handcuffs and theatre posters. The staircase that goes to an upstairs catwalk leading to an offstage loft style bedroom is particularly well utilized. 

John Collins's direction has allowed the story to tell itself. I think that there might have been a bit better use of the dramatic pause and I would have liked less opening and closing of the curtains between scenes. The ominous music might have been more effective in total darkness, but to be fair seeing people move around might have been a bigger tension killer.

The cast is pretty good. Lawrence Evenchick is the suitably jaded and frustrated writer Sidney Bruhl, 15 years removed from his last hit play. His wife Myra played by Diana Franz is suitably uptight and screams wonderfully well. Gordon Walls plays the detail oriented lawyer Porter Milgrim in a smaller and more subdued but important role.

On this night though, the audience favourites were definitely Dan DeMarbre as the exuberant student and Angela Pelly as the over-the-top psychic Helga ten Dorp.  DeMarbre starts with a golly-gee-it’s-so-good-to-be-here demeanour that is a perfect backdrop for his darker side. Pelly on the other hand is required to be hugely theatrical as the tuned-in psychic and she takes full advantage playing her visions full tilt.

All in all it was a really fun evening, but I do think that there is a little more to wring out of this one as play continues and the timing gets honed.   

lighting design David Magladry
runtime: approximately 2 hours 15 minutes with one intermission
Death Trap runs until April 6

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