By John Lyle Belden
A young playwright has possibly written the perfect thriller – could this lead to a perfect crime?
The less you know about the 1978 play “Deathtrap” by Ira Levin, presented by Constellation Stage and Screen in Bloomington, the more vague I should stay in describing it, as it twists and turns like country road switchbacks. This is a sharply written two-act five-person one-room thriller complete with scares and laughs, about a sharply written two-act five-person one-room thriller… Yes, it does get a bit meta, but in a masterful way, fascinating as it is dizzying.
Directed by Chad Rabinovitz, who couldn’t help adding a little appropriate entertainment of his own during the curtain speech, our talented five persons are:
- Mark Andrew Coffin as aging playwright Sidney Bruhl, who would practically kill for another Broadway hit, and keeps an awful lot of old weapons around his study.
- Greta Lind as Sidney’s wife, Myra, who doesn’t mind supporting him with her wealth, yet is afraid of what he might do.
- John Drea as Clifford Anderson, the aspiring writer who has sent perhaps the only copy of his first play, “Deathtrap,” to Sidney for his perusal.
- Mary Carol Reardon as Helga ten Dorp, likely the world’s most authentic psychic – though the visions do get fuzzy at times.
- And, Steve Scott as attorney Porter Milgrim, who comes in during the second act for necessary business, and to advance the plot with clever insights.
Coffin and Drea each give us characters who are simultaneously charming and a little suspicious, and good at dark physical comedy. Reardon relishes her work as a wacky medium, while adding suspense as the audience realizes that all her predictions come true – eventually.
In the intimate confines of the Ted Jones Playhouse, the characters can almost sense that audience witnessing them (none were harmed at our performance, and Constellation staff were standing by), adding to the spooky atmosphere provided by designer Seth Howard’s rustic/Medieval set.
For a February chill, step into “Deathtrap,” playing through Feb. 19 at 107 W. 9th St. in downtown Bloomington (formerly home of Bloomington Playwrights Project, now part of Constellation). Get info and tickets at SeeConstellation.org.