Monday, April 1, 2013

To die or not to die?

The Jungle's Deathtrap is a Caper with Ketchup on the Side

Five characters. Two acts. Three deaths. One script.

Countdown to murder commence - Deathtrap, the Jungle's latest dip into intrigue and laughs, is open.

Somewhat reminiscent of the slicked up slasher Scream films, the plot follows a man who fakes one murder in order to commit a real one. Sidney Bruhl (Steve Hendrickson), a murder mystery writer and closet homosexual, purposely fake grad student Clifford Anderson's (Michael Booth) death in order to induce a heart attack in his wife Myra (Cheryl Willis). With Myra dead, Sidney and Clifford are free to move in together and continue working on their plays.

The plot runs smoothly with the exception of the appearance of Helga ten Dorp, a Dutch psychic who predicts the evening's future events down to the clothing each character wears. Although this shakes Sidney and Clifford, they continue as planned and appear to escape without a hitch.

The trouble is, Clifford decides to use the real story of Myra's murder as his next manuscript. Terrified that others will discover his misdeeds and latent homosexuality, Sidney decides to plan another caper to kill Clifford before the news gets out. Clifford does the same, only to serve his own purposes.

Once again, the foibles are interrupted by ten Dorp and Sidney's lawyer Porter Milgrim. Each set of events and interruptions carries a twist that I won't spoil for you, but suffice it to say it keeps you relatively on your toes.

I have seen each of the cast members in various other shows before, and while I can say that they do a good job of moving Deathtrap's plot forward, they are not as inspiring as they have been in other productions. The Jungle seems to be producing a fair amount of mid-modern British murder mystery comedies of late, and while they are fun and provide a nice break from the 'dr-AHma of the-AT-er' that so many plays can often exude, they do begin to feel a bit repetitive after a while.

The set, as is always the case at the Jungle, is luxurious and almost ludicrously detailed, down to moving shadows behind window panes and working fireplaces. The sets at the Jungle are so magical and alive; I've often wished that some of their magic could be sparked into the performances as well.

While Deathtrap may not be the most innovative or terrifying murder mystery around, it is the ketchup and meatloaf of the genre - filling, solidly produced and tasty enough to enjoy anytime. Check it out as a way to fill time on the upcoming messy spring days with a cozy beer or three. Deathtrap runs through May 19, and tickets and more information can be found here.