Category Archive for: ‘Harry Duke’
What’s a once-successful playwright of thrillers to do once his creative juices have run dry and he comes across another author’s sure-fire hit? Might his mind turn to… murder?
That’s the set-up of Ira Levin’s Broadway record-setting comedy-thriller Deathtrap, now running at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park. Levin, the author of such successful thrillers as Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, and The Boys from Brazil, had his greatest theatrical success with this darkly comedic take on the creative process, the desire for success, and how some people just might be willing to kill for it.
Playwright Sidney Bruhl (John Shillington) is tired of living off of dwindling royalties from long-ago hits, the occasional college seminar and the largesse of his wealthy wife Myra (Karen Clancy.) An unsolicited manuscript from one Clifford Anderson (Ben Acedo), an attendee of one of Sidney’s writing seminars, arrives at his Westport, Connecticut home and sets his mind a-whirling. He invites Clifford up to discuss a possible collaboration, but things don’t quite go according to plan – or do they?
All the action takes place in Sidney’s study where he has surrounded himself with reminders of his faded glory. Posters of past hits and the various instruments of death utilized in those shows hang from the walls. Elizabeth Bazzano’s nicely appointed set is chock full of axes, maces and knives and you just know you’re gonna see them in action at some point.
To say much more (or post more pics) would spoil the fun, and it is a fun show, with enough twists and turns to earn it a 9.9 at an Olympic gymnastics competition. (I’m deducted a tenth of a point for an excess of inside-theatre humor.) David Yen does a deft job of direction, eliciting performances from his cast of five (including mollie boice as next-door psychic Helga ten Dorp and Garet Waterhouse as Sidney’s attorney Porter Milgrim) that nicely balance the play’s comedic elements with its darker moments of mayhem.
Yen keeps things moving at a brisk pace, which is important in a production like this. Timing is everything to comedy, and it’s best that the audience not be given too much time to think about the innate implausibility of what they’re seeing. Quite frankly, it’s not the kind of show you have to or want to think about. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Jet-black humor and a genuine jolt or two are what’s in store for you at Spreckels Theatre Company’s Deathtrap. It’s a bloody good show.
Presented by The Spreckels Theatre Company
through April 12
Thurs @ 7:30pm, Fri/Sat @ 8pm, Sun@ 2pm
Spreckels Performing Arts Center
5409 Snyder Lane
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Photo by Eric Chazankin