Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stage Door Theatre: Deathtrap (reviews)

Miami Stage Door opened its production of Deathtrap at the Byron Carlyle Theater on June 15, 2012.
The trap is set… for a wickedly funny who’ll-do-it. Broadway’s longest-running mystery is a classic pulse-pounding thriller with devilishly wicked characters and multiple twists. The plot thickens as a once famed playwright, now living on his laurels, is sent a more-than-promising manuscript from an aspiring playwright. His dilemma: Can he get the young author to collaborate with him? If not – is murder an option? Of course it is.
Clayton Phillips directed a cast that featured Kevin Reilly, Clay Cartland, Elizabeth Sackett, Glen Lawrence, and Paula Sackett.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Back in 1978 when the word “meta” didn’t have its current ubiquity as a pop culture definition of “something referring to itself,” Ira Levin’s ingenious comedy-thriller Deathtrap became the ultimate example of what would eventually become known as meta-theater.
Other than a few dated references, Levin’s script remains a brilliantly crafted and slyly knowing piece of theatrical cabinetry. The ensuing plot regularly corkscrews in on itself with reversals, but to reveal much more is to sabotage the audience’s delights in the twists. If you don’t know what’s coming, this marvel still holds up – as the gasps from Sunday’s audience confirmed.
This production could use a little more topspin under the direction of Clayton Phillips, the production manager for the Maltz Jupiter Theatre and an experienced director of musicals judging by his bio. He leads his cast in an adequate rendition, but this iteration doesn’t maximize the suspense or comedy that this play is capable of delivering.
The best thing about this production is that it finally gives veteran local actor Kevin Reilley a long-overdue role that is a perfect fit for his talents... He flavors Levin’s bon mots with just the right seasoning of frustrated bile.
Handsome Clay Cartland (so good in last month’s reading of tick tick… Boom for Outre Theatre) invests Anderson with the slightly bizarre enthusiasm that makes some of the play’s less likely twists completely credible, showing the acting chops that made his performance as a demented industrialist the standout in Promethean Theatre’s Song of the Living Dead.
Less satisfying was Elizabeth Sackett’s Myra who starts off the play unremarkably bland, thereby robbing the first scene of crucial energy. Her performance deepens as Myra’s growing anxiety and dread give the actress something to play with.

Paula Sackett works hard to create the one out-and-out farcical character, a frowsy Dutch psychic Helga Ten Dorp, whose visits to the manse threaten Bruhl’s plans. But inexplicably, Sackett just can’t make Helga land as the delightfully daffy fly-in-the-ointment that Levin penned. Glen Lawrence portrays Bruhl’s stolid solicitor with appropriate stuffiness.

It’s not the best Deathtrap you’ve seen (or will see if this is your first time), but it works well enough to be worth a visit. And credit Stage Door for being one of the few companies left in South Florida willing to mount this kind of tired businessman warhorse that combined sheer craft with sheer entertainment.
The Miami Stage Door production of Deathtrap plays at the Byron Carlyle Theatre through July 1, 2012.

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