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Queens Chronicle

Douglaston troupe stages a play that’s to die for

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Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2019 10:30 am

Douglaston Community Theatre kicks off its 70th season as a mainstay on the local scene with a sturdy — and still shocking — rendering of Ira Levin’s classic comic thriller “Deathtrap,” with three performances remaining through Nov. 23.

The play arrived on Broadway in 1978 and would run for a solid four years, setting the record as the longest-running show of its kind. Its popularity is understandable.

It focuses on playwright Sidney Bruhl and the lengths he may or may not go to in order to have another successful show. The play’s tag, “Some playwrights would kill for another hit!,” hints at what might be in store. Filled with unexpected plot reversals and numerous twists and turns that invariably elicit audible gasps in the audience, it remains a definite crowd pleaser.

The play, seen on Nov. 9, has rarely been performed on the local boards, making its arrival most welcome.

Under the taut direction of Linda Hanson, the five actors comprising the cast have been molded into a true ensemble.

In the challenging role of Sidney, veteran actor Joe Pepe adds another colorful portrayal to his gallery of characters, imbuing him with more than a tinge of smugness, along with deviousness, and, at times, utter desperation.

As his self-assured former student, Clifford, who has written what could possibly turn into a hugely successful play, Danny Leonard makes an auspicious DCT debut. He totally inhabits his role, turning in a smoldering performance that is as intense as it is wisely underplayed.

Stealing a scene or two is Sherry Mandery as psychic Helga Ten Dorp, a rather wild and mysterious creature who might be on to the unspeakable goings-on in the Bruhl household.

Dawn Bianco, as Bruhl’s innocent, high-strung wife, Myra, called to mind Jean Stapleton’s Edith Bunker in her unhinged moments. Ken Cohn was reserved as Sidney’s highly professional, observant attorney, Porter.

Set in the year of its Broadway debut, the play is replete with references to personalities that were theatrical titans at the time: David Merrick, George C. Scott, and the like, lending a touch of nostalgia to the proceedings.

The detailed set, designed by Ian McDonald, is apropos, anchored by a fireplace and decorated with framed theatrical posters of Bruhl’s past productions and an assortment of antique weapons, some of which are utilized to great effect.

‘Deathtrap’
When: Fri., Nov. 22, 8 p.m., Sat., Nov. 23, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Where: Zion Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 243-01 Northern Blvd., Douglaston
Tickets: $19; $17 students, seniors.
(718) 482-3332, dctonline.org

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