Ira Levin’s 1978 play “Deathtrap” has long been a staple of American theater. Winning countless awards and boasting one of the longest-running theatrical records, it’s never been short of ecstatic audiences and its share of controversy over the decades since it first graced the boards on Broadway, and ICT’s excellent production carries the torch flawlessly.
The always charming ICT Artistic Director caryn desai opened the show with a short curtain speech thanking all for their continued support as well as a sneak peek of next season’s roster of shows.
The audience was treated to an absolutely superb set design by Fred Kinney, who followed the playwright’s description to the letter. The symmetrical ceiling beams and set itself were complimented by an offset, oval platform that created a suggestion of an off-kilter playing space that was utilized fully with wonderful stage blocking by director Jamie Torcellini. The tag team of lighting designer Crystal Shomph and Sound Designer Dave Mickey was in perfect tandem to present a solid illusion in space and time of the author’s intent.
The terrific ensemble cast was led by Geoffrey Lower as Sidney Bruhl, making his debut on the ICT stage. Students of stage acting would be advised to attend this production to truly see how it’s done with Mr. Lower. Razor-sharp timing, hysterical physical comedy and silent pauses at just the right moments kept the spotlight on him at all times with nary a missed beat. His “searching for the desk key” bit accompanied by the harpsichord music is on par with anything that Charlie Chaplin ever did. Kudos to a magnificent performance!
Coby Rogers as Clifford Andersen holds his own against Sidney Bruhl in wit, verbal sparring and some great fight choreography by Patrick Vest (who is also in the cast!). A fresh face who has talent that belies his years, Mr. Rogers is equal parts charm and cunning to his more manipulating moments. He holds his own in the cat and mouse chess game with Sidney Bruhl and it’s hoped to see more of this promising young actor in the future.
Michelle Holmes as the hysterical Helga ten Dorp brings the laughs in short order as the opportunistic psychic. Last seen on the ICT stage in “Song of Singapore”, Ms. Holmes delivers the goods in every scene that she inhabits and is a joy to see. Applause!
Jill Remez is also making her ICT debut as Myra Bruhl, Sidney’s hapless and well-meaning wife, who discovers too late that all is not what it seems. A solid performance in the time that she has on stage, we look forward to seeing more of Ms. Remez in future ICT productions!
Rounding out the cast is Patrick Vest as attorney Porter Milgrim and serving double duty as the fight choreographer. Mr. Vest is also making his ICT debut in this show and you won’t be disappointed. Bombastic and playing to the back row, Mr. Vest has what it takes to give a solid supporting performance that steals every scene that he’s in. Wonderful work!
The play works well and is set in 1978 but it beggars the question: will audiences get the references to folks like George Kaufman, Joseph Papp, Merv Griffin and the Amazing Kreskin? The mention of things like carbon copies and such may raise a few eyebrows with younger audiences but the belief that what drives the comedy still works quite well. An updated version of the play may prove useful at some point but Levin’s masterwork of story structure, plotting and twists still packs a punch. There’s a reason that this play still has legs, and that reason is that it’s entertaining to a fault.
Clever fans of theater will note the original production artwork in Sidney’s study.
Just in time for Halloween, International City Theatre presents Deathtrap, Ira Levin’s Tony-nominated, gasp-inducing comedy thriller. Sidney Bruhl is a playwright desperately in need of a hit. Just in time, a former student sends him the manuscript of his first play, a murder mystery called Deathtrap. Sidney smells a hit… but he’s never been that fond of sharing credit. “Two-thirds a thriller and one-third a devilishly clever comedy… Suspend your disbelief and be delighted. Scream a little, it’s good for you.” – Cue magazine.
- Written by Ira Levin
- Directed by Jamie Torcellini
- Starring Michelle Holmes, Geoffrey Lower, Jill Remez, Coby Rogers, Patrick Vest
- Produced by caryn desai [sic]
- Presented by International City Theatre
Performances: Oct. 20 – Nov. 5
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Oct. 18 ONLY (preview)
- Thursdays at 8 p.m.:Oct. 19 (preview), Oct. 26, Nov. 2
- Fridays at 8 p.m.:Oct. 20 (Opening Night), Oct. 27, Nov. 3
- Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 21, Oct. 28, Nov. 4
- Sundays at 2 p.m.: Oct. 21, Oct. 29, Nov. 5
International City Theatre
Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center
330 East Seaside Way
Long Beach, CA 90802,
- Opening Night (Oct. 20): $55 (includes post-show reception with the actors)
- Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (except Friday, Oct. 20): $49
- Sunday matinees: $52
- Previews: $37