Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 11, 2013


Suffield Players, Suffield, CT
through February 23, 2013
by Walt Haggerty

With 1,793 performances to its credit, a stellar cast, and a plot with more twists and turns than the Merritt Turnpike, “Deathtrap” has much to recommend it for an evening’s entertainment.

Written by novelist/playwright Ira Levin, “Deathtrap” is unique in its clever manipulation of characters that keep the audience guessing who the real villain is, until that climatic moment in Act II, when the answer is revealed.

With comedy sprinkled generously throughout the play, the action moves swiftly through a series of meticulously crafted scenes that keep the audience on edge and the actors on their toes. Director Robert Lunde has accomplished a superb job in pacing the performance at break-neck speed, yet making certain that every plot twist and bit of humor comes through.

Performances by all cast members are perfection, with Christopher Berrien as Sidney Bruhl, completely convincing as a playwright with a writer’s block even larger than his ego. His level of desperation and lack of scruples are expertly delineated throughout the evening. Matching Berrien’s performance as an exceptionally talented younger playwright, Steve Wandzy runs the gamut from naive and impressionable beginner to treacherous and devious accomplice and adversary. The combative moments between these two are totally realistic, with audible head bumps and certainly inevitable bruises. (Is combat pay provided?)

In the role of Myra Bruhl, Sidney’s wife, Anna Marie Johansen is a delight. Supportive yet suspicious, high strung and erratic, Johansen manages to convey all of these emotions and make them appear plausible. Larry Chiz’ Attorney Porter Milgrim is excellent as a surface-friendly family lawyer who knows exactly when friendship transitions into “billing” time.

Mary Fernandez-Sierrra, as Helga ten Dorp, with a scrupulously maintained accent that was to die for and an antic performance that borders on spastic, manages to steal every scene in which she appears without ever over-playing the character. She is wonderful!

The setting, credited to Konrad Rogowski and Kelly Seip, is outstanding, as is the charming and comfortable Mapleton Hall Theatre.