At Victoria Hall Theater, Saturday, March

Deathtrap is Ira Levin’s best work, a play that set the standard
for hip, high-velocity comic thrillers back when it premiered on
Broadway in 1978. This production, which features Ed Giron in the
central role as the cynical, murderous playwright Sidney Bruhl,
cranks up the suspense and generates some real excitement in the
reversal sequences. It’s a challenge to create the kind of
freshness and surprise that makes a show like this work, but with
an able cast and the direction of Cybele Foraker, it mostly
succeeds. The show ran smoothly, delivering the laughs and lurches
of the alternately funny and scary script in just the right

The tense relations between Sidney Bruhl and his wife Myra,
played by Kathy Marden, dominate the first act. Sidney has a plan
involving another man and a potentially valuable first play, and
Myra wants nothing to do with it. Marden brought a mixture of
resignation and mischievousness to her portrayal that seemed just
right, while Giron gave a forceful and polished performance in the
lead, using his well-trained voice to pace the dynamics and give
the entire production a steady, forward momentum. Geren Piltz plays
the young man, Clifford Anderson, with great humor and physical

Deathtrap hinges on revelations that would be inadvisable to
reveal in a review. At the risk of spoiling one of these shockers,
it’s interesting to note that the play’s attitude toward the
potential variety of human sexuality has begun to seem dated, but
not necessarily in a bad way. Like those riddles that rely on the
likelihood that the listener will fail to imagine a woman in the
role of, say, a doctor, the play uses homosexuality as a different
kind of trap, the sort that beckons whenever the setup on stage
threatens to become overly familiar. The fact that Deathtrap holds
up so well today has a lot to do with the fact that this trick, now
perhaps less effective as sheer surprise, remains a powerful basis
for the remaining scenes in the drama. Perhaps we are more aware of
our preconceptions than we used to be, but the jarring impact of
the gay perspective in theater continues. Jennifer Gimblin has fun
with the role of psychic Helga Ten Dorp, touching the proceedings
with fanciful comedy, by turns broad and dry. It’s a fair cop, or
psychic, who can see through this Deathtrap.


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