Writer: Ira Levin
Director: Adam Penford
Reviewer: Beth Steer
Pitted as a ‘satisfying spine-chiller that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat’, Deathtrap in its UK tour is a real showstopper.
The play holds the record for the longest-running Broadway thriller in history – and it’s not hard to see why. With a talented cast of five, more twists than a bucket of snakes, and some fantastic jump-scare moments, it’s a brilliant production that’ll leave you laughing one minute, and jumping out of your skin the next.
Following the once-successful playwright Sidney Bruhl (Paul Bradley), the play charts Bruhl’s writer’s block, and what happens when a young playwright, Clifford Anderson (Sam Phillips), sends Bruhl the manuscript for his new ‘whodunit’, Deathtrap. Desperate to reinvigorate his reputation and become a renowned playwright again, Bruhl contemplates killing the young writer and passing Deathtrap off as his own new masterpiece.
It’s a play about a play, and Bradley’s portrayal of Bruhl as a fiendish has-been, who’ll stop at nothing, is fantastic. His Connecticut accent needs a little work, but his delivery – both comedic and chilling – is superb. Similarly, Sam Phillips bounces off him, morphing from an innocent-seeming young writer to a character with much more devious intent.
As Bruhl’s wife, Myra, Jessie Wallace is great. She’s frightened, encouraging, and confused, all at once, and it’s a shame she doesn’t get more stage time. As the psychic next door, Helga ten Dorp, Beverly Klein is brilliant. She’s funny, over the top, and faintly ridiculous, and the interaction between all characters is seamless and witty.
The creative doesn’t let the cast down. The set is meticulous – the one room in which all the action happens crafted beautifully – and it stands up to the meta references throughout. The lighting, sound and music all work wonders to make Deathtrap every bit as jumpy, surprising, and chilling as you could hope for; the whole piece is an absolute nerve-jangler.
At just over two hours long, some of the exchanges are quite lengthy, but, this does add to the suspense – luring the audience into a false sense of security before splitting their nerves with a shattering crash (or murder attempt).
Wickedly spooky in some places, and funny in many, Deathtrap is a must see. Rather than a ‘whodunit’, it’s a ‘who’ll do it’ – and nobody is exactly as they seem.
Runs until 14 October 2017 | Image: Contributed