Highly Recommended ***** Each season, Drury Lane Theatre offers one non-musical. In most cases, a comedy or even better, a farce. This year, the non-musical is a “murder mystery” and while it is a small cast, it is a high-powered production- Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap”. Smoothly directed by William Osetek, this two act drama/with comedic moments, is sparkling in every detail. It is considered a five character play, but I for one, count the set and the props as characters . I believe an explanation is called for on this- the set is a huge part of the actual play and its story. The entire play takes place in this huge converted horse barn ,attached to an estate in Westport Connecticut. Jeff Kmiec has designed and constructed a living space that most of us would love to reside in. It works! It is actually described in the script, which is why I consider it a character of sorts.
Cassy Schillo is responsible for the props and set dressings, and again, this is an important part of the entire process of telling Levin’s story. Since it is a mystery, I must be very careful as to what I say, not wanting to spoil the fun and excitement of this outstanding production. Almost every items on the stage is part of this story. Here is the basic story. Sidney and Myra Bruhl ( Daniel Cantor and McKinley Carter) live in this luxurious home. Sidney is a playwright who specializes in murder mysteries. Myra is a wealthy woman who owns the property they live on and has been using her personal wealth to afford Sidney to continue writing, although of late, he has had no success, or even ideas.
He receives a packet from a young would-be writer he met at a seminar he conducted the previous year. In the packet, a script for a play called “Deathtrap”. After reading this play, he decides that it would be a great idea to perhaps bring this young man to the house and work something out with him, as a co-writer. Or even better, perhaps he could take the story on himself and oust the young nobody. This is where the cat and mouse game begins. Can Sidney and Myra plan an attack on this young man where he would be murdered and Sidney would take over the play? I cannot tell you what occurs next, except to say that Osetek has put together an amazing cast to bring these characters and this story to life.
In this psychological maze of characters and story-lines, with a plot that zips in and out and changes from scene to scene, we witness twists and turns that keep the audience on the edges of their seats, and yet there are some very funny sections. In particular, the next door neighbor, a Psychic, Helga ten Dorp ( Cindy Gold is as good as ever. You will find yourself applauding her every exit/scene), as she sees all the plots and sub-plots and even forms her own in the end.
As Sidney and Myra’s attorney, Porter Milgrim, Marty Lodge, takes the lower route at building a weak character, who is just an attorney, but we later find out, in the final scene of the play, that he is not what we think he is either.
The young playwright, Cliff Anderson is deftly handled by Aaron Latterell, a newcomer to Drury Lane who truly shines in his performance of the young man who wants to write a mystery as good as that of his hero, Sidney Bruhl. Not wanting to spoil the picture painted by Levin through this sterling cast, I cannot tell you of all the nuances that appear, but can only tell you that there are many surprises throughout the two-hours-fifteen minutes (one 15 minute intermission) of the play. The relationship between Myra and Sidney, Sidney and Cliff, Porter and Helga and more will slowly evolve as the story unfolds. Expect to laugh and anticipate that just when you think you know what will happen next, it won’t!
Cantor is an excellent actor who handles comedy with just the right touch. This play has some strong physical action (Matt Hawkins handled the fight choreography brilliantly- this is a murder mystery, after all), and amazingly, none of the actors seemed to be hurt. Ryan Hickey(sound), Heather Gilbert (lighting) and Sally Dolembo (costumes) round out the technical parts of the show. No matter where you sit, every word will be heard. Many of you might recall the movie version with Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve and Dyan Cannon (1982)- this was far superior to that rendition This is a play that involves the audience and I loved being involved!
“Deathtrap” will continue at Drury Lane Theater in Oakbrook through August 14th with performances as follows:
Thursdays 1:30 and 8 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 5 and 8:30 p.m.
Sundays 2 and 6 p.m.
Tickets range from $45-$60 with some specials for seniors and students
dinner and luncheon special packages are also available
Check with www.DruryLaneTheatre.com
call the box office at 630-530-0111 or Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000
the theater is located in Oakbrook Terrace at 100 Drury Lane (just North of the Oakbrook Center)
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Deathtrap”