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Get caught up in Steel River’s ‘Deathtrap’

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REVIEW WRITTEN BY CHERYL THORNBURG 
For Digital First Media

With its twists, turns and deceptions, Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap,” offers mystery fans a puzzle within puzzle that will surprise and delight amateur sleuths. This dead-on comedy runs through March 20 at Steel River Playhouse in Pottstown.
The plot centers around Sidney Bruhl, a once successful playwright whose creative well seems to have run dry. His wife Myra encourages and supports him – literally. Her money has been paying the bills during the dry spell. Enter a brilliant young writer who asks Sidney’s advice on his new play and the stage is set for one of Broadway’s longest-running comedy/thrillers.

Philip Seader, left, and Andrea Frassoni play husband and wife in “Deathtrap.” Photo courtesy of John Daggett

Philip Seader, left, and Andrea Frassoni play husband and wife in “Deathtrap.”
Photo courtesy of John Daggett

The play starts out slowly and builds to an action-packed second act.
Levin’s script is peppered with clever lines and multiple references to other murderous plays that make you want to pay close attention to every word.

IF YOU GO
“Deathtrap” continues through March 20 on Steel River’s main stage at 245 E. High St. in Pottstown.
Remaining performances are Thursday March 17 at 7:30 p.m., Friday March 18 at 8 p.m., Saturday March 19 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday March 20 at 2 p.m. There will be a director’s talkback following the last performance.
Tickets are $17 to $29 and available online at www.steelriver.org. Online ticket ordering allows audience members to select their seat. Groups of ten or more are eligible for a discount.

Philip Seader, a Steel River veteran, turns in another finely nuanced and timed performance as Sidney. He was most recently seen in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and “The Miracle Worker.” Seader can be subtle in delivering Levin’s ingenious lines and be a very active participant when it comes to murder. His scenes with Zachary Clark who plays Clifford Anderson, the young playwright, are particularly fun to watch.
Clark, a newcomer to Steel River, is impressive as Bruhl’s former student, especially so, since he joined the cast less than three weeks before opening night. He mastered countless lines in that short time and created a devilishly charming and memorable character. He’s a welcome addition to the Steel River family.
Another Steel River veteran, Andrea Frassoni plays Myra, Sidney’s wife. The excitable and anxiety-ridden Myra is a real departure from some of Frassoni’s previous roles in “The Crucible” and “Toys in the Attic.”
Lauren Flanagan, who turned in a first-rate performance as the mother in the edgy comedy, “Becky Shaw,” returns to create the outrageously funny Helga, a psychic who picks up on strange vibes in the Bruhl house. She has fun playing Helga and the audience has just as much fun watching her.
Don Green, another newcomer to Steel River, but a veteran of countless productions elsewhere, plays the family lawyer, Porter. Green’s experience shows as he takes just the right professional stance as the more over-the-top characters interact with him.
“Deathtrap” is directed by Leena Devlin and stage-managed by Cathleen A. Sabatino.
Chris Kleckner’s set design creates the perfect tone for this pre-cell-phone-era country home in Westport, Connecticut.

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