jason_adam-1I really wanted to like Playcrafters’ “Deathtrap.”

After all, it has a quality cast and crew, many of whom I know or have worked with in theater, so I know they’ve got the talent to pull it off.

It’s largely a really fun script.

Yeah, going in I really had high hopes for the show.

I really did.

You feeling the suspense?

You’re wondering if I’m going to give it a good review or tear it apart, aren’t you?

Good. Because that on-the-edge of your seat feeling is what makes Playcrafters’ “Deathtrap” such devilish fun.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, because watching it unfurl is really a big part of the joy of it. So, I’ll just refer to the theater’s general description: Directed by Patti Flaherty, and starring Jason Platt, Adam Cerny, Nancy Teelink and Pamela Briggs, “Deathtrap” involves Sidney Bruhl, a successful writer of Broadway thrillers, who is struggling to overcome a dry spell which has resulted in a string of failures and a shortage of funds. His luck changes when he receives a script from a student – a thriller with the potential to be a Broadway hit. Sidney and his wife, Myra, devise a trap to scoop up the script and take credit for its creation. Murderous machinations result, the plot twists and turns with devilish cleverness, and you’ll be left guessing until the final moments.

And that sums it up. I’ll reveal no more and allow you to delight in the fun of its revelations. And please do, because you’ll thank me later for luring you into this “trap.”

Platt and Cerny are absolutely brilliant in their roles, exhibiting a terrific chemistry as the dry, sardonic and bitter Bruhl and the sleek and cunning protégé, Clifford Anderson. It’s a pleasure to watch them play off each other as they go through their passive-aggressive (and aggressive-aggressive) cat and mouse game. Watching the two of them bite into these parts and play them for suspense and humor is worth the price of admission alone.

In the supporting parts, Pamela Briggs shines brightest by playing it dullest as Myra Bruhl. She brings a stuffy, Margaret Dumont old money quality that fits her part well and makes her denouement seem quite realistic.

On the other side of things, I’ve always found the character of Helga Ten Dorp to be a grinding, obvious plot mechanism in an otherwise smart and elegant darkly humorous show. That said, despite my bias against the character, Nancy Teerlinck is a good choice for Helga. She’s got a knack for playing big, bawdy characters and she hams it up amusingly in the over-the-top part. Rounding out the cast, Jason Dloughy is fine in the minor role of the lawyer, Porter Milgrim.

Flaherty does an excellent job with the script and has done quite well with her stars. “Deathtrap” is a demanding mistress in terms of set and props and Playcrafters, and their crew of Donna Weeks, Jacque Cohoon, Sara Linnea Laufer O’Neill, Alexander Richardson, Aaron Sullivan, Marcia Templeman, Emily Edens, Ellie Gradert, Craig Cohoon, Karen Dubberke, Bob Hanske, Crista Ashcraft and Sara Nicole Wegener all deserve high kudos for nailing it in terms of props, set, lighting and sound effects. The use of strobe effects was especially effective and fun in creating a creepy patina during certain scenes.
I was just talking to a couple of friends of mine this week, Anthony Natarelli and J-Ca Blaum, about this show and I told them the same thing I’m telling you: You’ve got to see it. Cerny and Platt are wonderfully fun in a darkly amusing and twisty script and the show slays it on the details. “Deathtrap” is a heck of a ride.

The show unwinds “Deathtrap” Sept. 16-18 at its 4950 35th Ave., Moline venue. For showtimes and tickets, call (309) 762-0330, email boxoffice@playcrafters.com or check out www.playcrafters.com.

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.