ACT’s ‘Deathrap’ offers murder most foul, dark humor aplenty

Wade McIntyre
Playwrite Sidney Bruhl, played by Michael Mason, and his wife Myra, Dawn Martinez, discuss murder and other things in this opening scene from “Deathtrap,” the thriller comedy playing the Ascension Community Theatre.

When a one-time successful playwrite with a string of box office flops to his credit sets out to regain toast-of-the-town status, he banks on a murder plot to put him back in the high life.

The playwrite, Sidney Bruhl, receives a script for a stage thriller from a neophyte playwrite, then devices a plan to murder the playwrite and keep the script for himself.

Razor sharp cleverness and shocks galore have made “Deathtrap” by Ira Levin the longest running comedy-thriller ever on Broadway.

Now the play comes to Ascension Parish, opening Nov. 6 and running through Nov. 15 at the historic Pasqua Theater in Gonzales.

As directed by ACT’s Mattie Olsen, “Deathtrap” resurfaces as a dark, comedy thriller paced to scare audiences and keep them on the edge of their seats.

Just when viewers think they have the plot nailed, another fiendish twist is on tap.

Michael Mason, in the role as Bruhl, is required to age about 25 years, and be on stage virtually every scene in the play.

Because the play is only 60 pages long, much of what transpires on stage comes in the form of action, Mason said. 

“At first I was hesitant,” he said. “Now, I could not fathom not being Sydney. I’ve embraced the role and his mannerisms.”

Michael Ruffin, who plays the part of Sydney’s lawyer and best friend Porter Milgrim is playing in his first ACT production, though he has spent 15 years in theater, mostly in musical productions.

“I wanted to learn the control and centering required in a non-musical play,” he said. “The fun part of this show is that it is a thriller and we’re playing to a lot of people who have not seen it before. We dangle the audience one way, then take them in a whole new direction.”

ACT fixture Lorna Culmone Bourgeois plays Helga ten Dorp, the play’s psychic and comic relief role.

“I haven’t played funny in a long time,” Bourgeios said. “I mostly just try to get the way Helga sounds right, and that leads to everything else in the character.”

Cody Ikerd plays the young playwrite, Clifford Anderson, whose play leads to the apparent murder scheme.

“We have a small cast so everyone is extremely important in the play,” Ikerd said.

He describes his character as a bit psychotic, one who is almost charismatic at the show’s beginning.

The play develops before the audience as a play unfolding while it is being written by the playwriter characters, Ikerd said.

Rounding out the ensemble is Dawn Martinez who plays Myra Bruh.

Tickets for the show are available by calling the box office at 647-1230. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday thru Saturday, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee.

A dinner theater fundraiser will also be held Friday, Nov. 14 and Saturday Nov. 15. These gala performances include a cocktail hour, dinner catered by Fresh Bistro of Gonzales, and “Deathrap” at 8 p.m. Seating is limited. For more information call the box office.

Right, Michael Mason stress over what to do with a body wrapped in a rug in “Deathtrap,” now playing at the Ascension Community Theatre.