The Column Online



by Ira Levin

Allen Community Theatre

Directed by Robyn Mead
Assistant Director- Kristina Rosette
Stage Manager- Maddy Maslow
Set Designers- Randy Sandifer & Robyn Mead
Costume Designers- Robyn Mead, Kristina Rosette & Cast
Lighting/Sound Designer- Greg Cotton
Props- Debbie Stevenson
Master Builder- Bill Walsh
Artistic Scenic Designer- Kasey Bush
Fight Choreographer- Jeremy Stein

Sidney Bruhl played by Alex Rain
Myra Bruhl played by Heather Walker Shin
Clifford Anderson played by Logan Gaconnier
Helga Ten Dorp played by Kelly Moore Clarkson
Porter Milgrim played by Kenneth Fulenwider

Reviewed Performance: 3/25/2022

Reviewed by Gemma Ramsey, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Deathtrap is, put simply, a rollercoaster. Centered on a renowned playwright struggling to create and write on paper his next big hit, this hilarious show throws twists and turns at you nearly from start to finish. Things hit the ground running when a former student of his mails him the manuscript for a new show… Also titled “Deathtrap.” If it sounds familiar to you, maybe that’s because this thriller also has a movie adaptation starring the immaculate Michael Cain and Christopher Reeve.

I’ve always said first impressions are everything, and I was left in awe when I walked into the theater and was faced with an absolutely breathtaking set. The combined efforts of Director Robyn Mead, Randy Sandifer, Bill Walsh, and Kasey Bush created what very much felt like a lived-in space dominated by a thriller writer. From the numerous weapons adorning the walls (picked perfectly by props master Debbie Stevenson) to the hand-painted wood grain floors and furniture, I was in love at first sight. Everything felt methodically placed, and I have not been this blown away by a set in quite some time. My father, who attended the show with me, was equally impressed by the majesty of this team’s work. While the show as a whole was exceptionally good, that set lives in my mind to a much greater extent. And since we are on the technical side of things, I must also give due credit to Greg Cotton who designed the lighting and sound for this show. An issue I often find is that the white balance of the lighting leaves actors looking washed out and blotchy, and I can very happily say I did not have this issue with Deathtrap. Everything felt balanced and natural, and even the dark scenes FELT dark without making it impossible to see what was going on. All of this perfectly complemented the perfect costuming done by the direction team and cast. Everything felt appropriate to the time period, and it all fit the actors well. Nobody looked like they were drowning in their costume, and I love to see that. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the design team for this show. They knocked it out of the park.

As for the performances of the actors, I must say, I was also quite pleased with what I saw. The chemistry felt fluid and natural throughout the cast, and the few slightly stumbled lines were picked up and played off as absolutely nothing happened. I was fully invested in the dynamic between Alex Rain’s Sydney Bruhl and Logan Gaconnier’s Clifford Anderson and felt the pair of them really got the chance to shine at the ends of both acts of the show. When the tension is high, Rain and Gaconnier played off of each other expertly. Outside of these moments, however, Gaconnier felt somewhat stiff and unnatural. Alex Rain played his character to great success throughout the show, mixing wonderfully dry humor and macabre suggestions in a way that almost made him feel like a member of the Addams Family.

Though Helga Ten Dorp and Porter Milgrim (played by Kelly Moore Clarkson and Kenneth Fulenwider respectively) were not used too terribly in the show, I did quite enjoy the time they were on stage. Kenneth Fulenwider played Porter Milgrim to perfection and seemed to utterly understand the assignment. He carried himself like a lawyer, but also had an absent-minded glee to him that made me want much more of his character. Kelly Moore Clarkson was definitely the comedic relief of the show. Her performance as Helga Ten Dorp was amusing and over-the-top, and she took on the role of the Psychic quite well. I did, unfortunately, find her accent to be a bit distracting, though, as it seemed to come and go a lot mid-sentence. It also made some of her lines difficult to understand, which is a shame because the character (and the way she plays her) is so fun. Finally, we land on Heather Walker Shin’s Myra Bruhl, who absolutely stole the show. Every line delivered carried weight and thought, and I desperately wanted to see more of her.

There isn’t much more I can say about Deathtrap without spoiling the show for you, so I must urge you to get your tickets now. From the beautiful set to enrapturing performances, this is one show that you do not want to miss. I do recommend leaving the little ones at home, though, as there is mild language throughout the show and some violence, including a gunshot.

Allen’s Community Theatre
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This show runs from March 18th-April 3rd