By Paul Broderson
Excitement, humor, and surprises all rolled into one. These three words aptly sum up the play "Deathtrap," which showed at Valley Performing Arts. This production, directed by Vanessa Warner, gave a fairly solid performance. The setting and stage were magnificent, the plot was very intriguing, and the actors mostly performed well.
The entire play is set in Sidney Bruhl’s study, and set designers performed very well. The walls are decorated with a wide variety of killing instruments, leaving the audience to wonder which of the
weapons will be used during the play. The whole study had a look of authenticity to it, with plush chairs, lamps, desks, and even a glowing fireplace. At the back of the stage, there is a hallway and a
wonderfully built set of stairs, implying that the study has a room above it.
The plot of "Deathtrap" is very interesting. Viewers are given a certain expectation from the dialogue of the actors, then BAM! Something else entirely happens. And then a new twist is introduced, and so
on. This left the viewers on the edge of their seats, with no idea of how the whole thing would end up turning out. Another intriguing element is how the entire plot of the play is referenced in the play. The
actors actually call out how their own actions would make a good thriller play, and attention is called to this throughout the production.
The acting in the production was superb in some areas and sub-par in others. The parts of Sidney Bruhl and Clifford Anderson (played by Tom Jacobs and Matt Jenson) were acted out astonishingly well. The timing and pitch of by Jacobs was absolutely perfect, with jokes delivered in with a note of dire cynicism that had the audience rolling. Jenson responded immediately to anything thrown his way, and viewers could tell that the pair had a lot of synergy. The part of Porter (played by Phil Vincent) was not quite as aptly performed. His timing and voice were good, but he delivered his lines as though reading from a script, with not enough emphasis in any of the right parts. This threw off viewers a bit, and some felt it wasn’t the best idea to have the last scene with him in it. The jokes tended to flop at the end, and there wasn’t truly heartfelt applause at the end when the lights dimmed.
Overall, "Deathtrap" was satisfying. The set was authentic and appropriate, the main roles of Sidney Bruhl and Clifford Anderson were acted out impeccably, and the plot was incredibly interesting and
suspenseful, with some moments of true fear. Director Vanessa Warner and her crew did a very solid job.
The play will continue at the Machetanz Theatre, 251 West Swanson Avenue Wasilla, through Nov. 4. Call (907) 373-0195 for tickets and other information.
Paul Broderson has been a Valley resident for 10 years who absolutely loves Alaska and plans on growing old here. He’s a freshman at UAA, pursuing a BA in science and planning on becoming either a doctor or teacher afterwards. One day Paul would like to find the time to star in one of VPA's productions!