Review by Don Doman, Lavinia Hart, and Dale Westgaard.
“My goal is to entertain. That’s what any book or play has to do first. Anything beyond that is fine, but first it must entertain.” – Ira Levin
The first time I saw an Ira Levin production it was at the Lakewood Theater in 1958: “No Time for Sergeants” was hilarious and stared Andy Griffith and Nick Adams (who had his own TV show The Rebel the following year).
Levin’s 1978’s play “Deathtrap” is the fifth longest running play in Broadway history.
DEATHTRAP provides twists, turns, shocks and surprises that have held audiences rapt since its Broadway debut.
As I waited in line to get our tickets, I watched a video of some of the Deathtrap production. The set itself was fantastic and looked like a million dollars. In the theatre we took our seats. I counted only three empty seats and they were in the last row. The fabulous set alone won me over.
Details: “Sidney Bruhl would do anything to publish the next great play. He would even kill for it.”
Candace James of the Creative Team was the Fight and Intimacy Director . . . and belive me the fights were a delight. Gerald B. Browning was the Scenic Design/Scenic Charge Artist of the CreativeTeam . . . and he gave us an incredible set to look at.
In his “Director’s Notes” Producing Artistic Director of the Harlequin Theatre and Director of DEATHTRAP Aaron Lamb says about the genre of mystery plays “The best writers will keep you guessing, and Ira Levin is always many, many steps ahead.”
Of the five actors in the production, my wife Peg and I have seen four in action at Harlequin: We saw Russ Holm years and years ago in the original “Rock ‘n’ Roll Twelfth Night”, Xander Layden in the fantasticly hillarious “Baskerville,” and had Christmas presents over the last two years seeing Jana Tyrrell as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Teri Lee Thomas as the recent Ghost of Christmas Present. The fifth actor, Michael Christopher, we had not seen before, but I noted that he had appeared before in Deathtrap and he came across very nicely in this 2024 version. The cast worked together very nicely.
Mr. Lamb’s clever staging of Deathtrap is a perfect match for Ira Levin’s play even after nearly 50 years of mesmerizing performances around the world. Mr. Lamb’s first stroke of brilliance is in casting the play with actors who enjoy being “in the moment” of each plot turn — neither suffering from their past or telegraphing their hope for the future. They are engaged in listening, responding and taking action, much like a cat with a ball of yarn. You have no idea what will happen next. Nothing is predictable.
The second wonderful thing about Aaron Lamb’s work as a director is his clever use of his set as an actual hunting ground that is full of surprises. From the hunt comes the pacing of the play with an instinct of danger, subtle lighting that supports the dark side of human nature, and a brooding and, at times, wild sound score. Between Ira Levin’s script and Aaron Lamb’s direction, there are no redundancies and lots of reversals of expectations. It’s a sin to give away plot points to audience members who are planning to attend, so no more will be said about DEATHTRAP at the Harlequin Theatre except, get your tickets now! The show runs through February 11th. Box Office (360)786-0151.
From 1958 to 2014 is quite an entertainment achievement. It was great to see a standing ovation by the entire audience (minus the only three empty seats).