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April 14, 2005
Behind the Stage Door

Building a better Deathtrap


SOMETIMES, THERE'S JUST TOO MUCH GREAT local theater to choose from. Here are a few interesting options in the weeks ahead.

Don't miss Ferndale Rep's top-notch thriller Deathtrap. It's guaranteed to have you thinking about positive and negative relationships played out amidst jealousy, substance abuse, infidelity, financial ruin and desperate love. Actors Gene Cole (Sidney Bruhl) and his stage wife (Maureen Catalina) set up the play in the blissfully shortened first scene. Bruhl's a washed-up playwright seemingly crushed by four failures in a row after a series of worldwide successes. He's bothered by his neighbor, a famous psychic (Willi Welton), who seems to know too much of his private life. His wife is prone to heart attacks and seems to drink too much, but does she? Even the family attorney (Ted Lichti) has deep dark secrets. When Bruhl lures a young apparently nervous and star-struck writer (Jonathon Moveno) to his lair to discuss collaboration, the boy enters the bizarre world of Bruhl's death trap. What happens next has taken audiences around the world on a roller coaster of split-second timing, shock and hysterical laughter until none of the characters remains unrevealed or alive. You can never tell until the end.

Photo of Gene Cole in DeathtrapCole brings an unexpected force to his role, remarkable considering the fact that he stepped into it just 11 nights before opening night. While he says his friends think he's typecast, somehow I can't quite picture Gene as a suave, lying, cheating, low-down swine who would kill to steal another man's play -- so maybe his friends haven't seen the play.

Each individual in the ensemble is simply brilliant, and the nonstop nail-biting action is played out on a Dan Lawrence set so real you're going to wish you could move in as soon as the curtain falls.

[Photo at left: Gene Cole in Deathtrap]

Deathtrap's design crew includes David West (lights), Vicki Charlton (costumes), and Gabriel Groom (sound). Prepare to scream, gasp and laugh Thursdays through Sundays at the Ferndale Repertory Theatre, 447 Main St. Call 786-LIVE for tickets or go to for more information.

Laughing while the waters rise

Petrolia's touring theater company, Human Nature, presents What's Funny About Climate Change?, a three-person political comedy review highlighting the absurd differences between word and action at the dawn of an exciting new century.

Human Nature writer/performer David Simpson notes, "It's a very political show," adding, "We played in red states and blue states. We performed going into the war and coming out of it. More people laughed than threw sharp objects, a sure sign of success." See for yourself at the College of the Redwoods Forum Theater, Tuesday, April 19, at 7 p.m. or at the Eureka High School Auditorium, Saturday, April 30, at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, call 629-3670.

As seen on TV!

Actor Zack Rouse describes The Real-Er World, the latest original production of Humboldt Repertory Theatre, as live improvisation lampooning reality television and reality itself with, "tons of humor, a little drama, a bit of potential violence and sex." It's so fresh no one knows what's going to happen -- including the actors, while the audience sticks to the fourth wall like the proverbial fly. Shows start at 8 p.m. April 14-16 and 21-23, at the Salmon House, 2950 Janes Road, Arcata. Call 407-6027 for tickets and further details.

This little piggy went to school...

The Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre continues the tradition of commedia dell'arte, people's theater dating back to the Middle Ages, if not before. Students graduating from Dell'Arte's Master of Fine Arts program, who have mastered comedy, melodrama, performance art, body work, music, dance and physical theater, will soon spread to the four corners of the Earth. But first they present two original pieces, The Whisper and Swimming in Orange Peels, Thursday through Sunday, April 21-24, and An Evening of Clown, Friday and Saturday, April 29 and 30. All shows begin at 8 p.m. in Dell'Arte's Carlo Theatre in Blue Lake. For tickets or more information, call 668-5663 or go to


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