James Yaffe's mystery-thriller reflects the bleak world view of Swiss novelist-playwright Friedrich Dürenmatt's novel, Trapps, from which it was adapted. The plot and structure suggest a sinister variation on Arsenic and Old Lace. In a luxurious chalet in the Swiss Alps, a group of retired legal eagles (Michael Buss, Christopher Spencer, and Tony Grande) gather to act out trials of their own devising. When a stranded American, Trapp (John Byrd), seeks shelter from a raging blizzard, he's invited to join in the legal games, and soon finds himself on trial for murder. He insists that he's innocent, but realizes he's fighting for his life when he learns one guest (Murray Rubin) is a former hangman, while the housekeeper (Daniella Dahmen) and the Igor-like butler (Adam Caplan) are ex-convicts. The assumptions here are that everybody is guilty of something, and we are all a bit insane. Unfortunately the thrills are few, the plot is predictable, and director Autumn Browne presides over a production which often fizzles when it should crackle. Spencer is excellent, and Byrd, Dahmen and Caplan are also fine.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 5. Continues through Feb. 3, 2008
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