Although I do enjoy “Miss Marple” and “Clue”, murder mysteries are not my typical “go-to” type of show. “Deathtrap” now playing at the Jungle Theater in Uptown was my first experience with a stage performance of this particular genre. The show was written by Ira Levin in 1978, produced on Broadway and made into a movie starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. It is a play within a play and has many plot twists which I found sometimes helpful and other times it seemed too much was going on. The cast is small with only five characters and is a two act show with three scenes per act.
As the curtain opened I was in awe of the set. To the back was a yellow brick wall, stage left was a baby blue paneled wall and right, a white working fireplace with books and weapons covering the wall. The floor was wooden and there was a couch, desk, lamps, play posters hanging all over the room and french doors that led out to a patio with vines. There was also a side room that only people sitting stage right could see which included a little hallway and stairs up to what we were told was the second floor. Needless to say, it was a fantastic set designed by Bain Boehlke who also doubled as the director. The attention to detail in the show was impeccable. During day scenes you could hear birds chirping outside. When the characters went to open the “front door” you could hear it squeak and people talking off stage. During the storm scene, rain and thunder were heard. I loved that the wall with the weapons was utilized throughout the play. The set reminded me of the widely popular series “Downton Abbey” where the house has become a character in itself.
Steve Hendrickson, who played Sidney Bruhl and Michael Booth, who played Clifford Anderson, worked well together as the two focal actors of the show. Sidney’s wife, Myra, played by Cheryl Willis was quirky but a little too precise and over the top for me. The psychic played by Claudia Wilkens was a fun role but her lines were a little muddy. That may be due to the fact that she was playing a Dutch woman and her accent was taking over. I would have liked to hear a bit more articulation. The actors did a wonderful job with the show and although I may sound a bit critical (pardon my nitpicking), the audience did not seem to be in the least. They were very receptive and clapped between scenes. I’ve also never heard a group scream so loud out of fear in live theater.
After the show my theater blogger friend Jill (Cherry and Spoon) and I stayed for the Q & A. It was fun to listen to people’s questions for the actors. They also showered the cast with compliments and told them how extraordinary the play was. I may not have given it a 10 but I think an 8.5 would be sufficient and deems the play highly ranked in my book. If you like a little thrill, go see this show! For more information check out the Jungle Theater’s website: http://www.jungletheater.com/