“Is this a dagger I see before me?” The last time that we saw Wade Newhouse, he was in a certain “Scottish play,” and he was playing a character that was plotting a murder, and his wife was involved. And, yes, it was a dagger, “handle toward [his] hand.” Déjà vu? The Forest Moon Theater’s presentation of Deathtrap includes daggers and guns, an axe, a mace, a crossbow, and two sets of handcuffs — all openly displayed on the wall!
Ira Levin’s Deathtrap holds the record for the longest-running comedy-drama on Broadway — and with good reason. The script is tight, the dialogue is witty, and the plot is full of twists and surprises.
Forest Moon Theater’s production of Deathtrap, directed by Lisa Binion, is excellently paced — fast enough to remain captivating and to retain the suspense, yet not so fast as to lose even the tiniest bits of the humor.
Each of the six scenes keeps the audience focused just right. That is, one character might be doing the talking; but we find ourselves magically watching the reactions of another. Sometimes, we are laughing; sometimes, we are wondering if we have just been given yet another clue.
Theater has always been at least a little self-referential. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for instance, Peter Quince (while directing the play-within-the-play) points to the stage and says, “Let this clearing be our stage.”
Deathtrap follows in this tradition — from the very start, the plot is concerned with the creation of a play titled (what else?): “Deathtrap.”
Sidney Bruhl (played by Wade Newhouse) is an older, established playwright (now experiencing a dry spell); he discusses a script with his wife Myra (played by Betsy Rogers). It was sent to him by a former student: Clifford Anderson (played by Brook North).
Envious of the quality of this script, Sidney invites Clifford to their house to discuss possible revision. Is this a trap? For whom? When will it spring? Who will be caught?
Helga Ten Dorp (played by Laura Parker) is a psychic who drops in. How much of what she “sees” is real? How much of it is action in past plays? How much of it is future action — real or scripted?
Porter Milgrim (played by Tim Wiest) is the Bruhls’ lawyer. How much does he know? About what?
The chemistry between these actors is fantastic. Most notably: interactions between Wade Newhouse as Sidney and Brook North as Clifford are always totally believable — both the earnest and the feigned. (Sorry if that’s a spoiler!)
If you’ve never seen Deathtrap, put it on your list of clever things to do. If it’s been a while since you saw Deathtrap on the stage, this production is highly recommended. In fact, if you’ve never seen anything by Forest Moon Theater, this show is a great place to start.
At the risk of creating a spoiler: Don’t wait until a full moon!
The Forest Moon Theater presents DEATHTRAP at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 and 19, 3 p.m. Sept. 20, and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24-26 in the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, 405 S. Brooks St., Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587.
TICKETS: $15 in advance ($13 students 18 and under and seniors 65+) and $18 day of show ($16 students 18 and under and seniors 65+).
BOX OFFICE: http://www.etix.com/.
SHOW: http://www.forestmoontheater.org/deathtrap-show-information/, https://www.facebook.com/events/147664665575018/, and http://wakeforestnc.gov/deathtrap.aspx.
2015-16 SEASON: http://www.forestmoontheater.org/current-season/.
PRESENTER: http://www.forestmoontheater.org/, https://www.facebook.com/forestmoontheater, and https://twitter.com/FMTheater.
VENUE: http://www.wakeforestnc.gov/renaissance-centre.aspx, https://www.facebook.com/WFRenaissanceCentre, and https://twitter.com/WFRenCen.
NOTE: This production is Rated PG-13 due to mature content and language.
Deathtrap (1978 Broadway comedy-thriller): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=1377 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=3000″>http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=3000 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deathtrap_%28play%29 (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://everymantheatre.org/LiteratureRetrieve.aspx?ID=221669 (Everyman Theatre of Baltimore, MD).
Ira Levin (New York, NY playwright and novelist, 1929-2007): http://www.iralevin.org/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=6436 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_Levin”>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_Levin (Wikipedia).
Lisa Binion (Raleigh, NC director): http://mycatbites.com/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/lisa.binion.731 (Facebook page).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.