Murder mystery with plot twists and role reversals makes debut
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 16:06
A murder mystery is afoot at Theatre UCF, rife with suspense, drama and even comedy.
Deathtrap, Theatre UCF’s latest production, is a play with many plot twists and reversals intended to leave the audience guessing as to what happens next.
Be Boyd, undergraduate coordinator of acting at UCF and the director of the play, said the complexity of the production makes it particularly intriguing.
“What’s beautiful about this is that it’s really a play within a play within a play, and it’s written so wonderfully that one line means something and has many layers that you might not actually understand until the end of the play,” she said.
The play, written by Ira Levin in 1978, is set in the Connecticut home of Sidney Bruhl, a playwright who has had many failed productions at the box office and is searching for his next big hit. He comes across a play written by another young writer, Clifford Anderson, and decides he wants to steal it and kill him. Jason Nettle, a graduate acting student who plays Bruhl, describes his character as a man filled with jealousy and envy who is willing to do whatever it takes to get back on top.
“He is a famous playwright who is sort of past his time in the sun,” he said. “He had a hit about 18 years ago, and he’s had really nothing huge since then. So he’s sort of trying to get back into the limelight. He’s put out a few flops since, so he’s sort of been past his prime.”
Jay Pastucha, a junior acting major, plays the role of Anderson. He defines his character as someone looking for guidance in life.
“He’s a character full of passion,” he said. “He knows what he wants. He has these ideas, these visions of grandeur, but he wants to be good. Not good as in good and evil, good as in successful. Passionate and youthful are some of the best ways to describe him.”
Pastucha also said that Anderson really looks up to Bruhl.
“I think if you were to put your biggest idol out there and to try to put yourself in the shoes of your idol, whether it’s music, writing, anything. And you just apply that to [it]. That’s the kind of relationship they had,” he said. “It’s a master-apprentice relationship, I would say, because what Clifford does, he does want guidance in all of this. He wants to be famous, I guess you could really say.”
Boyd describes the mix of comedy and drama as similar to that of Dexter, a well-known Showtime TV series about a blood-splatter pattern analyst for the Miami Police Department who is also a serial killer.
“It’s kind of that quality, except the comedy, I think, is a little more apparent and spread out much more than in Dexter,” she said. “You do need actors who have the ability to drop into the honesty of the moment and play the truth of the script as well as someone who understands humor and understands sarcasm.”
The play takes place in two acts and features a cast of five characters. It takes place right in Bruhl’s study, which is actually a converted stable. The production features a range of combat scenes involving knives, guns and even a crossbow, to name a few. The production features two graduate acting students, two undergraduate acting students and a faculty member.
Tara Snyder, assistant professor of musical theatre, plays the role of Helga Ten Dorp, a psychic whom she describes as the comedic relief of the show. Christopher Niess, artistic director for Theatre UCF, is the play’s primary fight choreographer, but Snyder served as an assistant fight choreographer and fight captain for the play.
“There’s a lot of hand-to-hand combat in the show,” she said. “There’s some fighting with various weapons as well. I had to help students a lot with ‘how do I fall safely?’ You know, if they’re falling out of an attack or something like that without landing on breakable things like wrists or knees. ‘How do I arch my body to look like I’ve just been hit?’ Things like that.”
Boyd said the suspense and mystery of this production drew her to want to direct this play.
“I love a good mystery and a good thriller,” she said. “Those are my favorite kinds of stories, not to necessarily know what’s going to happen next. To maybe suspect, but not be sure, to have that sense of reversal happen in a play where you’re not quite sure of who is who and what is what. I really enjoy a story that is told that way.”
The performance will take place at Theatre UCF’s Main Stage from June 21-24 and from June 28 to July 1. Ticket prices are $17 for a standard ticket, $15 for seniors and $10 for students. For more information on Theatre UCF’s productions, visit theatre.cah.ucf.edu.