Review: Deathtrap (Scarborough Players)

Thumbs up for “impressive” play Deathtrap, now on the Toronto stage

Playing at the Scarborough Village Theatre, Deathtrap is a suspenseful comedy-thriller about murder and deception. Written by Ira Levin, this tale has twists and turns that let us into desperate, criminal minds that are bent on success. What’s more, it is cleverly staged and absolutely entertaining.

Sidney Bruhl (Clive Lacey) is a struggling has-been playwright who feels intense pressure to make his next play an absolute money-making hit. Myra (Peta Bailey) is his caring, fragile wife and confidante who watches Sidney’s plans unfold.

Sidney’s murderous imagination is set into motion when a former student, Clifford Anderson (Nicholas Wicht), sends Sidney a play full of Broadway potential. Sidney then considers killing Cliff for it: Sidney invites him over to discuss revisions, and once he discovers that Cliff is friendless and has only one copy of his play, murder becomes a feasible strategy that will lead Sidney into long-awaited success. Sidney can already see his name in lights.

This crazy scheme has outside observers though: Helga Ten Dorp (Erin Jones) is the psychic neighbour who senses that something is not right in the Bruhl household, and Sidney’s lawyer Porter Milgrim (Frank de Francesco) also visits and expresses suspicion and concern.

When it comes to the acting, Lacey gives Sidney a take-charge but poor-me attitude. More importantly, his villainous facial expressions make Sidney’s calculating mind very, very frightening.

Erin Jones, as Helga Ten Dorp, also has a strong presence, owning the room every time she walks in. Her repeated cries of “pain,” her rolling ‘r’ sounds, and her grand gestures make her a colourful, flamboyant character who is not to be fooled.

Cliff’s character, Nicholas Wicht, has one scene that I particularly admired. When working at his new desk, Wicht types like crazy, practically dancing while he has one brilliant idea after another. His typing manner is a comic contrast to Sidney’s sighs of frustration, as he searches his brain for the smallest bit of inspiration.

My friend found the music to be well-chosen and evocative. We were greeted with Miles Davis’ free-flowing music from Elevator to the Gallows that in itself creates suspense. The mystery element of Deathtrap is also enhanced by the theme song for a 1980s detective TV show, Mike Hammer. Hats off to the crew who create the ambiance.

Along with the music, the set does a fantastic job of promoting an atmosphere of crime. The study of the Bruhl home is decorated with swords, battle axes, daggers, a spiked ball and chain, a club called a mace, and more objects associated with violence. The other impressive thing about the stage is that there is only one single set. There are no scene changes, yet the story is told seamlessly.

All in all, I’m giving my thumbs up for Ira Levin’s brilliant story. If you’re up for an engaging thriller that has you gasping in surprise, see Deathtrap.

Details

  • Deathtrap is is playing at Scarborough Village Theatre (3600 Kingston Rd. (at Markham Rd))
  • Showtimes: June 30, July 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 at 8 PM; July 2 and 9 at 2 PM.
  • Ticket prices: Regular price $22 and Seniors and Students $19
  • Tickets can be purchased online or at the Box Office at 416-267- 9292

Photo of Nicholas Wicht and Clive Lacey by Thomas Kowal