Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre & Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre
Written by Leo McGann
Directed by Adam Kassim
Review by Travis Manni
(Boston, MA) According to the old cliché, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The truth of this is debatable, but it’s true that, when luring something, or someone, to its doom, it’s much simpler to do it in a soft, sweet way. On multiple levels, this was the crux of how Leo McGann’s The Honey Trap told a story of history, guilt, and revenge.
Historian Emily (Grace Georgiadis) is in the process of collecting personal accounts from a tragic incident that took place in Belfast in 1979. A couple of off-duty soldiers, Young Dave (Conrad Sundqvist-Olmos) and Bobby (Ben Swimmer), went out for a drink at a local pub. They hit it off with Lisa (Maggie Markham) and Kirsty (Sarah Whelan), two girls whose flirtatious advances are sweet like honey. Now middle-aged and haunted by guilt, Dave (Barlow Adamson) seeks vengeance, but knows that he has to play nice with Emily to get what he wants.
The mystery of The Honey Trap was really well choreographed. Having two scenes exist on stage simultaneously, the current scene where Dave retells his account of events and watching the memory of the night at the bar play out, is a smart and compelling manipulation of time. It also reinforces that Dave is still very much so stuck in the past.
While sprinkled with bits of comic relief to give the audience a chance to breathe, this show also has a great deal of well used tension. This starts to boil over in the second act when we realize that Dave, despite denying his guilt, will never be satisfied until justice is served. Moreover, The Honey Trap’s final scene has one of the best uses of a weapon on stage. The audience knows what’s about to happen, but it’s still a shocking moment without being forced, and the danger feels real.
Adamson as guilt-ridden Dave is the ultimate honey trap in this show. Managing to be convincing as both the charming ex-soldier with a dark past and a hardened-by-revenge type, he draws the audience in by bringing the complexities and heartbreak of his character to the stage in a beautiful way. Sundqvist-Olmos and Swimmer as the young army pals have great chemistry, both caught somewhere between youthful innocence and the responsibilities of manhood. And Maureen Keiller as Sonia is immediately likeable despite having the least amount of stage time. She is able to hone in on the gritty truth of how ugly our humanity can be, and she cracks the heart of anyone who knows what it feels like to be an imperfect parent with a shameful past.
Jeffrey Petersen’s scenic design was rustic and simple. The bar scenes felt cozy and familiar, but the hard, metal panels that acted as moveable curtains to transition scenes served as a reminder of the underlying, aggressive tension. Married with Evey Connerty-Marin’s lighting design, an unknown room that hovered upstage, overseeing every scene play out while an eerie shroud of light illuminated a shattered window, was a great and gloomy foreshadowing of things to come.
The Honey Trap teaches that, without forgiveness, the past is a cyclical pattern that is bound to repeat itself. It’s also about the choices we make and the lies we tell ourselves and others so we don’t have to deal with the emotional consequences. It draws you in like something sweet, then has you by the throat before you’ve had the chance to blink. It’s just a good damn show.
The Honey Trap runs for 1 hour, 45 minutes with one intermission. To purchase tickets, click here.
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