DEATHTRAP Brings Twists to Princeton Summer Theater
If one murder was all that stood between you and the reclamation of your former glory, what would you do? This is what Princeton Summer Theater's upcoming production of Deathtrap asks as washed-up thriller playwright Sidney Bruhl descends into murderous madness when a former student arrives on his doorstep with a surefire hit. The name of that play? Also Deathtrap, and also a two-act, five-character thriller that's much more than meets the eye.
It's difficult to say much more than that without giving away Deathtrap's shocking twists. The only thing that shouldn't be surprising is that the play is a thriller-lover's thriller, carefully crafted to upend the expectations of even the canniest mystery enthusiast. The play's metatextuality doesn't extend to its author-though Sidney's best days are behind him, playwright Ira Levin was at the height of his powers when he wrote Deathtrap, coming off the success of hits like Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives.
Princeton Summer Theater's production likewise features a veritable murderer's row of talent. Director Annika Bennett, a playwright herself, returns to the Hamilton Murray stage after helming 2016's Gods of Carnage. 2017 Artistic Director C. Luke Soucy (Spider's Web) will make his PST mainstage debut as Sidney; he'll be joined by three-time PST performer Abby Melick (Pippin, Spider's Web, The Baltimore Waltz), 2019 Company Members Dylan Blau Edelstein and Justin Ramos, and newcomer Kathryn Ann Marie.
Bennett's production emphasizes the performativity of Sidney's world, giving new life to a classic of summer-stock theater. Award-winning New York fight choreographer Rocio Mendez (The Secret Life of Bees) will bring the play's most suspenseful sequences to thrilling life, while costumes by Jules Peiperl, lights by Megan Berry, and sound design by Naveen Bhatia innovatively rethink this bear-trap of a play.
With its story about the lengths one man will go to pursue his desires, Deathtrap is the second play in Princeton Summer Theater's season to explore love in all its forms. It will be followed by a new adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare's classic tale of misbegotten affection, and Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog, a slyly humorous fable about the fraught relationship between two African-American brothers in a hostile world.
Photo by Kirsten Traudt