For those who enjoy a good murder mystery with plenty of unexpected plot twists, it’s time to hurry over to the lovely Montgomery College Theater of The Woodlands campus. The play is Ira Levin’s Broadway success, “Deathtrap.” Evening performances are Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2:30 on Nov. 12 and 19. (Tickets at the door, or call 936-273-7021 for information.
The action unfolds at the Bruhl family home in Westport, Connecticut. The scene is the study of Sidney Bruhl (Rick Evans), a has-been playwright, best known for his one Broadway success, “The Murder Game,” some 18 years prior. He sums it up that “Nothing recedes like success!” As the play opens, Sidney and wife, Myra, (Shawna Watson) are discussing a manuscript he has received from Clifford Anderson (Joe Moore), a young man who once participated in one of Bruhl’s playwriting seminars. With Myra’s encouragement, Sidney plans collaboration with the young writer on the seemingly brilliant new play. When Clifford arrives at the Bruhl home, the diabolical fun begins. You will need a scorecard for the unexpected plot twists.
It is almost impossible to give more details without spoiling the fun for readers who may attend the show. The young collegians in this cast do very capable work and have fine stage presence. Watson’s approach was smooth and articulate, but at first her portrayal of Myra seemed too low-key in terms of her reactions to horrific events. There were a few moments, during her gentle performance on opening night, when she seemed to forget that “acting is doing” with her lack of stage movement. But when it is revealed that Myra has some serious health problems, the characterization seemed more reasonable.
Evans adds yet another fine characterization to the many different ones he provided in last season’s marvelous dinner theater offering, “The Dining Room.” Here, the talented Mr. Moore, as Clifford, ably matches him. Adding comic relief to the treacherous goings on, we have a standout performance from Niki Key as the eccentric European psychic, Helga. She foresees “…a big storm, with much wind —- Trees will fall…” because she heard it on the radio! She confesses she “…never enjoyed playing ‘Hide and Seek’,” and her antics are a highlight of the evening. Don’t miss her prediction for her own daughter! Rounding out the fine cast is Michael La Broski as lawyer Porter Milgram. For those who have misgivings about lawyers, this guy will confirm your suspicions.
Director Jamie Hughes has given us another fine college production. The scenic design of Jeremy Kusich provides a very handsome, convincing, and detailed set, that is well lit by Lighting Designer, David Marco. And speaking of lighting, the thunderstorm was a pip, though the thunder occasionally drowned out dialogue. Interlude music provided by the college Electronic Music Class must have been spooky fun to rehearse at Halloween time. It added a nice touch.
As for me, at show’s end I headed across the campus parking lot toward my car. The first autumn chill penetrated the night air and I heard some footsteps behind me. I felt compelled to turn around and see if I was in danger. But it was just some other satisfied theatergoers. I was safely home in time for the 10 o’clock news.
(The Courier 11.15.00)