Monday, October 22, 2018

Deathtrap—Bag & Baggage Productions—Hillsboro, OR

          Playing For Thrills

    This classic thriller by Ira Levin is directed by Scott Palmer (B&B’s Founding Artistic Director).  It is playing at their space in The Vault Theatre, 253 E. Main St., in Hillsboro, through October 31st.  For more information, go to their site at

    Levin is not a stranger to this genre, having been most famous for “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “The Stepford Wives.”  My own personal favorite of his, though, is the little known, “Veronica’s Room,” (which I directed some years ago).  Levin had his own share of failures, too, and so Sydney, the main character, does have the same haunting problems but, gratefully, not with the same solutions.

    Mystery, Horror, Thrillers are all genre’s I’m fond of because, as Ray Bradbury put it best when he said, that those kinds of books/films deal with the Unknown, our Fears and, if we can conquer them, through these literary means, then we can survive anything.  “Deathtrap” is more of a very dark comedy or melodrama then it is an outright thriller, but it does have its share of twists and turns and downright shocking moments.  And so, sit back and relax (if you dare) and enjoy…er, experience, this Halloween mayhem offering.

    Sydney (Lawrence Siulagi) was a successful Broadway playwright of thrillers but now seems to be in a slump.  With his candle dimming, he just can’t seem to come across an idea for another blockbuster.  His wife, Myra (Morgan Cox), has long stood by his side.  Finally, an idea arrives…in the mail, from a former student, Clifford (Andrew Beck), with a play called, “Deathtrap.”  It’s his first play and he has hopes of his mentor liking it but who, it turns out, not only likes the script, but is hoping to collaborate on it with him, possibly leading him back to the limelight.

    But just when things seem to be going swimmingly for this union, his next-door neighbor, Helga (Mandana Khoshnevisan), a psychic, shows up with predictions of gloom and doom for these artistic folks.  And, sure enough, one of them does meet their demise.  Not only that, but the couple’s own lawyer and a friend, Porter (Eric St. Cyr), shows up unexpectedly with news that their financial situation also may be in jeopardy.  I’ve had to be very sketchy because the spoilers could run rampant if I gave away any more information, so come see it for yourselves for the payoff(s).

    One of the first things I noticed when entering the theatre was the terrific set (Tyler Buswell), which was pretty amazing, as it contains many artifacts from various methods of murder over the years.  First-rate!  And Palmer, always a visual and organic director, has used the space well.  He also understands character and has a super cast, always playing the characters slightly off-key, which is appropriate for a thriller.

    Siulagi is terrific as the aging writer and Beck, as the novice, is equally as good, both playing off each other to dramatic conclusions that are quite effective.  Cox and Cyr are fine as supporters of Sydney’s.  And Khoshnevisan is perfect as the eccentric, nosy neighbor.  She always lights up the stage when on and is, again, a marvel here, too.

    I recommend this play but, be aware, there are some brutal scenes.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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