BWW Reviews: Pioneer Theatre Company's DEATHTRAP is a Tightly Wound Ticking Clock of a Production

By: Mar. 31, 2014
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Pioneer Theatre Company's DEATHTRAP is well crafted all around, with superior direction, design, and performances.

DEATHTRAP, by Ira Levin, is part comedy, part drama, and all thriller. Set in 1978 Connecticut, the story centers on Sidney Bruhl, a washed-up writer of thrillers for the stage who is unable to replicate the alchemy of his past hits. A promising play written by a young upstart named Clifford Anderson may be the key to Bruhl's success, but how far is he willing to go to get back on top?

The play, and this production of it in particular, sells itself as probable reality with ease. And any time it begins to feel forced or false, it turns itself on its head to prove that it is indeed as real as it once seemed. This conjures a haze of uneasiness that constantly hovers about the proceedings, disorienting the audience in a way that only a great thriller can.

The all-Equity cast is solid all around. Thom Sesma plays Sidney Bruhl with a slick, wry sense of humor, and Devin Norik's Clifford Anderson has an appealing easy charm. Gayton Scott as Myra Bruhl brings a tragic dose of humanity to the table with her touching performance. Kymberly Mellen as the bumbling psychic neighbor Helga Ten Dorp is a true joy, and Craig Bockhorn doesn't miss a beat as Porter Milgrim.

The many technical elements come together seamlessly to create a realistic environment that is crucial for the believability of the labyrinthine plot. The set designed by Daniel Zimmerman is one of the best seen on Pioneer Theatre Company's stage in recent years. Also important are the well-designed lighting by Karl Haas, costumes by Brenda van der Wiel, and hair and makeup by Amanda French. In addition, the fight choreography by Christopher Duval is well conceived and executed.

Director May Adrales has triumphed in creating a tightly wound ticking clock of a production that engages and satisfies.

DEATHTRAP plays through April 12, 2014. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit

Photo Credit: L-R: Thom Sesma (Sidney Bruhl) and Devin Norik (Clifford Anderson). Photo by Alexander Weisman.


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