Venue: Drama Barn
Date: 19th-21st October
Director: Rory McGregor
Producer: Helen Peatfield
Just when you think you have the plot sussed, the rug is pulled from under your feet. Death Trap keeps the audience on its toes like a good thriller should; a patch work of well-known plot lines, sewn together with a hint of pantomime made the play easy to follow but not predict.
Aware of the very nature of the play, the audience are, in the beginning determined not to be outsmarted by the plot. Their ears are pricked, banking every line in their memory with the knowledge that it may contain a key detail, some vital clue for what is to come. Sidney Bruhl (Mungo Tatton- Brown) plays on the audience’s paranoia by elongating certain words and turning abruptly to the audience with a cunning grin half way through his dialogue, encouraging the audience to read into these particular words with even greater scrutiny. Although, after Sidney exercised this technique a few too many times in one scene to be taken seriously, the audience, realizing the joke is at their expense, relax; which is exactly how Sidney wants them.
Balancing Sidney’s extroverted character, his wife Myra Bruhl (Lilly Cooper) adds veracity to their situation. Declaring herself “the only person with two feet on the ground” she prevents the opening scenes from being ridiculous, as her anxieties are “real” ones, ones that you could relate to if you found yourself in such a dilemma. Myra successfully injects her distress into the scenes through bursts of fidgeting and a wide eyed stare, commanding a stage presence without taking centre stage. However, first night nerves may have been the cause of Myra’s reservation and slight self-consciousness at the beginning of the performance; as, I felt she portrayed the characteristics of someone much younger than was intended.
A notable strength of Death Trap is that, due to its plot line, it calls on the audience to re-evaluate the characters in light of the latest turn of events. Clifford Anderson (Louis Lunts), harnesses this in his performance, and drives home the point that “nothing is a given” through the versatility and energy of his acting. Many of the criticisms I made of him during his performance ultimately turned out to be intentional on his part; it was then I realised, that I myself had been led into a trap. Nevertheless, there were occasions where Clifford turned his back to part of the audience, obstructing the view of the action, which was extremely frustrating.
Praise must go to Helga Ten Dorp (Roseanna Brear) whose performance brought a lighthearted element to the play. Her comic character not only encourages the audience to laugh, but acts a reminder that Death Trap is a play that although may bear some resemblance to a blockbuster thriller, ultimately should not be taken too seriously.