By Sean V. Lehosit
Would a struggling playwright be driven to murder to resurrect his dying career? This is the premise of Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap,” being produced by Bread & Circus Theater this season.
The meta-thriller is a two-act play with a perfect balance of scares and giggles, according to director Mimi Ninde. She said the multiple plot twists and surprising character deaths make it a perfect Halloween treat.
The play tells the story of aging playwright Sidney Bruhl, who struggles after a string of box office flops and is living off his wife’s money. When he receives a surefire script from a former student, Clifford Anderson, in the mail, he believes he knows how to save his reputation.
“Deathtrap” features five performers and deals with a single set, which eliminated some challenges, according to Ninde. The theater venue lacks fly space, which proves difficult for multiple set changes. Props became the challenge for this production.
“Finding and making the required collection of weapons was the biggest challenge. I used three boxes of roofing nails and took three hours to make the mace,” Ninde said.
The crew also designed and built six tents to move on and off stage, created a lightweight and maneuverable desk and tracked down an old fashioned typewriter.
“Deathtrap” features local residents Judy Manley and Mitch Randolf, along with veteran performers Robert Shuman, CJ Jamison and Mic O’Halloron – who is seen telling the story of “The Headless Horseman” for the Ohio Historical Society.
O’Halloron filled the role of playwright “Sidney Bruhl,” a character he portrayed 23 years ago. Coincidently, his former student is performed by Shuman, who also reprised a part he played two decades ago.
“We really do work well together, and I think that’s the secret of any production,” O’Halloron said.
Performing the same characters decades later brought new perspective to their parts, according to O’Halloron. He said the character’s desperation is better understood, along with nuisances that come from burdens of age.
The show opened its curtain earlier this month to positive reception, according to Ninde.
“So far theater-goers have gasped and giggled in all the right places and are enthused about the performances at the meet-and-greet immediately following each show,” she said.
“Deathtrap” will perform through Nov. 2 at Hoge Memorial Presbyterian Church, 2930 W. Broad St. For ticket prices, show times and upcoming auditions, visit www.bctco.org.