Courtesy of Douglaston Community Theatre
(From left to right) Dawn Bianco, Danny Leonard and Joe Pepe in “Deathtrap.”

BY CLIFF KASDEN

The 1970s comedy/mystery “Deathtrap” ran on Broadway for close to 1,800 performances. Now, it’s on stage at Douglaston Community Theatre (DCT), which is celebrating its 70th anniversary in Queens with this twisting, turning tale that boasts a sophisticated touch of tantalizing humor.

Of course, there’s at least one dark and stormy night. The once famous playwright Sidney Bruhl (Joe Pepe) is suffering from a serious case of writer’s block. He will do anything for another Broadway smash. Anything!

His long suffering wife Myra (Dawn Bianco) actually has mixed emotions. How far is too far to regain her husband’s long lost fame? Enter Clifford (Danny Leonard), a struggling writer with a surefire idea. Will he become a victim or perpetrator?

Their neighbor Helga (played by Sherry Mandery), who happens to be a shockingly accurate psychic, adds well-timed intrigue. Thank goodness for loyal friend and level headed attorney Porter Milgrim (Ken Cohn). He couldn’t possibly participate in the murderous mischief? Well, could he?   

The audience is treated to a dazzling display of unexpected plot reversals that never goes stale.  All the action unfolds in the Bruhl study in Connecticut. The walls are covered with gruesome weapons including cleavers, handcuffs, pistols, swords and sickles (props by Robert Gold/Gary Tifeld/Catherine & Kevin Clyne). Which one will strike the fatal blow?

Director Linda Hanson welcomed the audience before the play begins and has guided numerous DCT productions over many successful years. As usual, the cast includes seasoned veterans and relative newcomers.  Joe Pepe plays the lead with relentless and possibly ruthless determination. He effortlessly maintains his character’s despicability at every turn. Dawn Bianco ably portrays his neurotic wife. At times her body and voice seem to quiver and shake. Danny Leonard, playing the trusting young student, matches Pepe’s timing as the storyline twists. He is so calm and casual. His conscience must be clear. Or maybe not! 

The production staff capably delivers the evening’s sets (Ian McDonald), staging (Marionanne Rourke) lighting, sound and music (Robert Stivanello, Peter David Zhong and Gary Tifeld). The play itself unfolds at the Parish Hall of the Zion Episcopal Church in Douglaston.

For ticket information on this and their future productions call 718-482-3332 or visit www.dctonline.org.

As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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