Suffield Players grasp audience emotion
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Suffield - posted Thu., Mar. 7, 2013
From the bright lights and big stage of Broadway to the small, intimate community theater inside the quaint, historic Mapleton Hall, "Deathtrap," written by Ira Levin, kept a packed audience on the edge of its seats, wanting more. The Suffield Players ended their 60th anniversary as a group by putting a modern twist on the old classic murder mystery, to high praise and acclaim from many.
“It was the same play you knew, but yet it was unique,” said publicity director Mary Fernandez-Sierra. “You didn’t know what somebody was going to say next. I am still getting feedback on that play, which is unusual because usually people want to hear about what’s next. It’s still all about ‘Deathtrap.’”
The two-act thriller is essentially a play within a play, and features five characters going through countless plot twists and unforeseen developments. Christopher Berrien, as playwright Sidney Bruhl, comes across as snobby and pretentious, but as the play progressed, he worked the crowd and earned their affection. His devilish interactions with Clifford Anderson, played by Steve Wadzy, pushed the plot, and their epic fight and death scenes caused audience members to jump, shriek and bury their heads in their palms.
The clever quips and angst from Myra Bruhl, played by Anna Marie Johnasen, coupled with the outrageous outburst and one-liners from Mary Fernandez-Sierra, as Helga ten Dorp, left the crowd in stitches.
“I had a vision of what I thought 'Deathtrap' could be for our audience, and in the end we achieved that vision,” said Director Robert Lunde. “They laughed where we thought they should; they gasped where we wanted them to. The script is well crafted, and I think we let it breathe so every nuance could be enjoyed.”
The production was as detailed as they come, relying heavily on a variety of props and technology, with an abundance of music and sound effects coupled with intricate lighting cues and set design. The effects including stormy nights, papers burning in the fireplace and even a crossbow shot through the chest. Specific cues and props were needed to push the show through, and they went off without a hitch. The effects were not limited to the set and props, but choreographed movements and fights also played an integral part in the production, which was seamless and as lifelike as you could imagine.
The group brought a freshness and new look to the play by setting it in modern times, while also throwing in clever puns and phrases throughout. The modern perspective was refreshing to those who had seen it before and were worried about a stale act. Jokes that included seeing visions - like psychic medium John Edwards - and jabs at Connecticut Light and Power drew huge laughs from the audience and even caused actors to hold their lines until the laughter halted.
“I am very proud of their [actors] work and the end result,” Lunde said. “And, the most important critics - the audience - were so complimentary. That speaks volumes.”