March 8, 1999
Currently running at the Woodinville Repertory Theatre is Ira Levin's thriller comedy, Deathtrap, directed by Melanie Calderwood. This is only the second production of the Woodinville Rep, a newly-formed theatre company serving Woodinville and the Eastside.
The enthusiastic response to Deathtrap on opening night proves that WRT knows the formula for putting on successful plays that appeal to audiences. The combination of strong actors, a director who knows her craft, and a tried and true script guaranteed to keep the audience interest high makes this production a sure-fire crowd pleaser.
The plot involves Sidney Bruhl, an older, once-successful playwright who specializes in thrillers, and a younger, want-to-be playwright, Clifford Anderson, whose relationship grows increasingly more complex during the play. David Wingert, as Bruhl, and Steve Barron, as Anderson, are solid performers who do justice to their roles.
Wingert plays Bruhl with the right amount of conceit and acerbic wit, never letting the audience forget that he is the master of words. He is egotistical, devious, and an intricate plot-weaver. Wingert commands presence on stage. He dominates many of the scenes because he is totally confident in his role and has a razor-sharp sense of comedic timing.
Barron handles his character's changes adeptly and is able to portray several different attitudes and personas. He is all "aw shucks" naivete one moment and a swaggering cocky rooster the next. He can ooze charm or maniacal madness.
Deathtrap takes the audience on a roller coaster ride that twists and turns with many gasping, heart-stopping moments. The plot gets thicker, and confusion mounts as to the true motivations of the characters. The suspense builds along with suspicions and issues of trust.
This all takes place on a handsomely-crafted set of a New England home created from an old horse stable, complete with antiques, framed theatrical posters, and a cast iron stove. It may seem cozy, but somehow, the collection of grisly weapons hanging on the wall lends a sinister air to the scene.
Supporting actors Jenn Ruzumna (as Sidney's wife, Myra), Michael Mahoney (as Porter Milgrim, the Bruhl's attorney), and Melanie Workhoven (as the Dutch psychic Helga Ten Dorp) are capable performers who complete the show's cast. Workhoven is especially delightful with her exaggerated Dutch accent and eccentric mannerisms, eliciting laughter with her entrances and exits.
Deathtrap runs through March 14 in the converted old Knoll Lumber building, next to the Woodinville post office. Performances are set for March 11 and 13 at 8 p.m and March 14 at 2 p.m. For ticket information, call (425) 481-8502.