The Forest Moon Theater at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, now in its third year, opened its first four-production season on Sept. 18th, with the venerable comedy-thriller Deathtrap by Ira Levin. Like other great comedy/mysteries, such as Arsenic and Old Lace, Ten Little Indians, and The Mousetrap, Deathtrap is already familiar to many audience members. Some people have seen them several times, but love to come back for more. Somehow we forget this or that, and it becomes a brand-new show all over again.
A crowd of patrons thoroughly enjoyed the clever story of ambition, failure, plagiarism accomplished by murder, and good clean humor Sunday afternoon; and we were glad to be among them.
Lisa Binion directed a lively and eager cast of local performers, including two who are already well known on Triangle stages. She has attracted Todd Houseknecht, one of the area’s finest set designers, to create the renovated barn that is Sydney Bruhl’s writing studio inside his wife Myra’s home. It is the play’s sole location.
The back wall is clustered with a perilous assortment of weapons, both seriously blunt and dangerously sharp, and hand guns as well as handcuffs and a crossbow. Effective lighting was delivered by a super cute couple Dave and Elaine Petrone. Jason Bailey and Katie Barrett choreographed believable and humorous fight and murder scenes, with Ninja-like precision.
Wade Newhouse strides into the role of Sydney Bruhl with verve, commanding the stage and being entirely present in his character. At times, we almost feel sorry for him, a man looking back at his past writing success and finding his well of inspiration has run dry.
Clifford Anderson, the hotshot young playwright with a potentially valuable script in his hands which is fresh from his fertile mind, is enacted by Brook North. First, he is well cast, physically; and he also runs us through a panoply of emotional phases that display his depth and breadth.
Laura Parker, tall and strikingly Eastern European, with supporting accent, brings us Helga Ten Dorp, the self-styled psychic who, indeed, senses things she cannot have actually seen. Her comic delivery and timing are excellent.
Porter Milgrim, the Bruhl family lawyer, is nicely handled by Tim Wiest, whose performance is very believable and his almost-passes at Clifford are delightful.
Betsy Rogers gives a commendable performance as Myra Bruhl, making her devotion to her marriage and her scoundrel husband tangible and loving.
This young company is a distinct asset to the town of Wake Forest, and we look forward to seeing more of their work as the season progresses.
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 18th Raleigh, NC Triangle Review review by Kurt Benrud: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/09/forest-moon-theater-builds-a-better-mousetrap-or-rather-deathtrap/.
The Forest Moon Theater presents DEATHTRAP at 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).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.