Writer: Ira Levin
Director: Adam Penford
Reviewer: Sharon MacDonald-Armitage
There is nothing more exciting than the anticipation of a good old-fashioned thriller and Deathtrap at Salisbury Playhouse lives up to expectations. The plot is surprisingly simple; slightly past his creative best Broadway playwright Sidney Bruhl (Kim Wall) has thoughts of murder in order to take credit for a first script written by student Clifford Anderson (Sam Phillips). While his wife Myra (Lesley Vickerage) looks on horrified at the thoughts and plans he’s considering, the audience gradually become aware that these thoughts may turn to reality. To say much more would give away the plot but suffice to say there are many twists and turns along the way.
If you are of a slightly nervous disposition there are a few jumps and surprises in store and even though there are warnings as you enter the auditorium the best advice is to brace yourself.
However, this play is peppered with humour, most of which manifests itself in psychic Helga ten Dorp played to absolute perfection by Beverley Klein and alongside Bruhl’s lawyer Porter Milgrim (Julien Ball), who makes up the required five characters in a murder play, the final scene is extremely funny.
There are moments when the action is over-egged in particular a fight scene that goes on too long and appears a little clunky but it’s nothing that can’t be ironed out as the run continues. Despite a few hesitations and fumbles of lines there was nothing that halted the flow of the play and the actors and creative team work hard to ensure the play flows smoothly from start to finish.
Set designer Morgan Large must be commended for his attention to detail in creating Bruhl’s home, making it a character in itself which looms over the action. The clever use of video clips from various well-known murder movies: Gaslight, Dial M for Murder and Sleuth work well in covering scene transitions and give an imposing, dark feelto the play.
With appropriate laughter and a variety of synchronised yelps Deathtrap was on the whole well received by the Salisbury audience and listening to the comments of those leaving at the end seemed to confirm this. If you like a good comedy thriller then this is an enjoyable evening out despite a few glitches.
Runs until 27 February 2016 |Image: Keith Pattison