BWW Review: DEATHTRAP at Avon Players Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat!
Avon Players' production of Deathrap by Ira Levin, running now through February 1st at Avon Players in Rochester Hills, is a suspenseful thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat!
Living a seemingly comfortable life in his charming Connecticut home, playwright Sydney Bruhl is struggling to overcome a string of failures that have left him hurting for money. However, he quickly realizes his luck may be turning around when he receives a script in the mail from Clifford Anderson, a former student. Greed instantly overcomes Sydney upon reviewing the script and realizing that it will be a sure-fired hit. Sydney offers to collaborate with the young writer, but the plan he has devised with his wife Myra is far more devilish. The audience is taken on a rollercoaster of suspense and anxiety as the events of this play unfold. This isn't your usual night out at the theatre.
What first caught my attention before the show even started was the immaculate attention to detail on the set. Having seen multiple shows at Avon Players before, I am always quite impressed by the intricacy of their sets. No stone is left unturned and no detail is too small. By showcasing a very detailed set, this immediately pulled me into the story. Suddenly I was living in this charming Connecticut home, and the show hadn't even started. My praises go out to Brad Holoday's set design accompanied with Bryan Clifford's artistic design.
Simply put, I was very impressed by Jeff Stillman's performance as Sydney Bruhl. Sydney is a tough role to play, as he must face a changing of personality traits throughout the show. At the heart, Sydney is a hopeless and greedy individual, who will stop at nothing to be successful. However, throughout the show we see that there is a soft side of Sydney, and he is capable of being a good person. Stillman weaves in and out of these personalities with fluidity and ease. I also must commend Stillman's near-perfect diction and delivery of his lines. In addition, Stillman possessed facial expressions that matched how Sydney Bruhl was feeling at any given moment. It was clear from the opening scene of the play that Stillman prepared diligently to develop this devious character, and I enjoyed his presence throughout the entirety of the play. I hope to see Stillman perform again soon.
Equally as impressive was Patrick Jordan's portrayal as Clifford Anderson. This was my first-time seeing Jordan perform locally, and he did not disappoint. Andersen is an eager, young playwright who as just written his first hit. He comes off as respectful and thankful for Sydney's willingness to collaborate on edits for his first play in the first couple of scenes. However, as the continues on it becomes very clear that Anderson is not the man we all think he is. There is a clear change in Anderson's personality and motive. Jordan can weave in and out of these different portrayals of the character very easily, and I commend him for that. Something also to make note of is the chemistry between Stillman and Jordan. To me, it seemed like these two have been acting together onstage for years. Audience members will be quite pleased with Jordan's performance as Cliff, the eager playwright.
This was my first time seeing a production of Deathrap. As with most thrillers, a lot of the suspense that the audience feels is entirely lost if theatrical details are not executed correctly. Sounds effects, lighting, and props are all key to ensure the actors can create an aura of suspense and danger in the room. I have to praise Director David Reynolds for his attention to detail on preparing and executing all of these key details that keep a thriller exciting.
Avon Players' production of Deathrap is very well done, and I would recommend it to anybody who is looking for a unique theatre experience. If you are a fan of horror or thriller films, this is the show for you. Bravo to the entire cast, crew, and production staff of this immaculate production.
The remainder of the cast of Deathrap includes Lesa Bydalek as Myra Bruhl, Katie Jostock as Helga Ten Dorp, and Richard G. Marcil as Porter Milgrim.
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*Show information courtesy of Avon Players.