With more twists and turns than San Francisco’s famed Lombard Street, Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap” continues to wow audiences at Kansas City’s Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, just perfect for the Halloween season.
“Deathtrap” played on Broadway for almost 1800 performances according to the website International Broadway Data Base (ibdb.com) and has not made a repeat appearance since the play closed in 1982. The show, tightly written and typical of a whodunit style concerns an again playwright who just can’t find success 18 years after writing his masterpiece thriller. As such, money and fame escape him. He finds himself living on his wife’s money, and desperately wants newfound success and fame. He might even consider murder–after all, he writes murder mysteries all the time when he’s not conduction a college seminar for some fast cash.
My memories of “Deathtrap” extend back to a high school trip I sponsored in the summer of 1980 and “Deathtrap” was the selected play for the group to see. Going into the MET and seeing the set, opened a floodgate of memories. The sets were very similar, with the MET set about 1/3 bigger than the one I remembered.
“Deathtrap” absolutely brings a combination of laughs, surprises, twists, and turns. Anyone who does not know the story cannot guess where the play leads. And, with a solid cast, the show never slows or becomes tedious. Give credit to director Linda Ade Brand for casting selections, new faces at the MET, solid performances, and a tight show.
The cast contains only five members, and succumb to gruesome deaths. Just who, when, where, why and how makes the story so much fun. Guessing becomes similar to a game of clue where you guess the victim, how he/she dies, and with which weapon. And the weaponry in “Deathtrap” leads to countless possibilities because the lead character writes thrillers and collects antique devices used for murder.
Craig Benton and Connor Eastman lead the production. Without their chemistry, the show would fall flat. Because they work so well together, the relationship carries the show. Karen Paisley, as the wife of character Sidney Bruhl makes the first act suspenseful with her characterization and the nervous tension she injects in so many places. Without her, the tension would not grow, nor the twists and turns of the first act work. Through her character, the plot develops and teases the audience as the play continues.
Benton, Eastman, and Paisley all give solid performances, but the two supporting characters increase the comedy and surprises with two more solid performances. Overall, the five work together well and their chemistry knits “Deathtrap” into a tightly constructed performance. The cast is: Craig Benton, Connor Eastman, Karen Paisley, Kevin Albert, Michelle Stelting. The production team is Chris Gleeson, stage manager; Karen Paisley, set design; John Story, sound design; Elizabeth Bowman and Charles Moore, scenic artists; Karen Paisley, costume design; Marc Manley, props master; Nicholas Relic, associate costume design.
“Deathtrap” runs at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre through Nov. 5. For more information on dates, times, and tickets, go the MET website.Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre
Tags: Performing Arts, Theater, Arts & Entertainment, Kansas , Kansas City Theater, “Deathtrap”, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre