Marsha Mason as Helga Ten Dorp in Bucks County Playhouse's production of DEATHTRAP. (Photo credit: Mandee Kuenzle)

Marsha Mason Returns to Bucks County in DEATHTRAP

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Saxon Palmer and Raviv Ullmand in a scene from DEATHTRAP. (Photo credit: Mandee Kuenzle)

Ira Levin’s DEATHTRAP holds the record for the longest-running comedy-thriller in Broadway history, and was nominated for a 1978 Tony Award for Best Play. This long-running thriller continues to pack them in, as evidenced by the latest production at Bucks County Playhouse.

DEATHTRAP opens in the country home of Sidney and Myra Bruhl (Saxon Palmer and Angela Pierce). Sidney is a playwright, suffering from writer’s block after a series of box office flops. He tells Myra he’s just read a play written by a former student, Clifford Anderson (Raviv Ullman) and it’s a certain hit. He implies that he might kill Anderson and steal the play, frightening his wife in the process. Later, Anderson arrives to talk to Sidney about the play, and…

This was an interesting production. Director Evan Cabnet had to mold very disparate acting styles together to make a cohesive show. Palmer was almost stereotypical as the fading playwright…British accent, calm demeanor hiding a certain evil. Pierce was the opposite as a scenery-chewing deliberate Myra. Ullman was understated as Anderson, providing yet another contrast for the audience. The “name” in the production, Marsha Mason, was comedically over-the-top as the psychic Helga Ten Dorp, giving the audience a thrill with her presence and laughter with her portrayal. Rounding out the cast in this 5-character, one-set comedy is David Wohl as Porter Milgrim, the lawyer who helps arouse Sidney’s suspicions about Clifford’s manuscript.

Saxon Palmer and David Wohl in DEATHTRAP. (Photo credit: Mandee Kuenzle)

The set is beautiful, the study of an upscale cabin in the woods, with posters of Sidney’s many plays adorning the walls, as well as his collection of weapons…some of which play very heavily in the action. The fight choreography needs a mention…very tight, realistic, and in some cases very unnerving. Lighting was functional, after some pre-show issues resulting in a delayed curtain.

All in all, this is a fun evening of theatre…even with the somewhat dark elements, it’s a comedic delight, and the performances are wonderful.

Comedy-Thriller by Ira Levin
Directed by Evan Cabnet
June 19-July 13, 2014
Bucks County Playhouse
70 S Main St,
New Hope, PA 18938
(215) 862-2121


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Walter Bender

Walter Bender

Walter Bender is a veteran of over 35 years performing all over the country. He attended Texas Lutheran University as a Theatre Arts and Vocal Performance major. While in college he toured much of the Southern and Western states with various acting and singing groups. He appeared briefly on radio in San Antonio and on TV in Miami while in college. Moving back to PA, he has performed in well over 100 amateur and professional theatrical productions, and directed dozens more throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Among his favorite roles are Lt. Colonel Jessup (A Few Good Men), Daddy Warbucks (Annie), and most recently he was George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Arguably his favorite theatrical memory was creating the role of Alan Frick in A Fast Train to Heaven for Bill Gottshall Productions. He is co-founder of Spring-Ford Community Theater, has served as Managing Director of 2 different theaters, Artistic Director of a third and President of another. He worked for the Delaware Valley Arts Institute, where he worked with many wonderful artists and instructors, culminating in being selected to facilitate a post-graduate course at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Currently he serves on the board of directors for dcp theatre as their Director of Corporate Communications.

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