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Deathtrap (Susan Elkin reviews)

how: Deathtrap

Society: Mill at Sonning Theatre Ltd, The

Venue: The Mill at Sonning. Sonning Eye, Reading, Berkshire RG4 6TY

Credits: By Ira Levin. Directed by Tam Williams.


3 stars

Photo: Andreas Lambis


I was a Deathtrap virgin until I saw this show – unlike most of the critics in the press party I went to Sonning with, who had seen in on Broadway, in the West End ten years ago and/or had fond memories of the film. It meant that I really enjoyed the unexpected twists as only a first timer can.

Sidney Bruhl (Nick Waring) has been a successful playwright but his star has waned and he needs a new play. His wife Myra (Emily Raymond)  is warmly supportive even when he gets into plagiarism mode. Then they are visited by Clifford Anderson, (George Watkins) a wannabe playwright who has met Bruhl on a course the latter was leading. Well, I’ll spare you the spoilers. Suffice it to say that nothing, but nothing, is as it seems. We’re in macabre territory, trust is thin on the ground, there’s a neat device whereby the play specifically sends itself up and it’s all very funny.

The acting is enjoyably competent and all three excel at silent communication so that irrespective of who’s speaking we are left in no doubt about what the others are thinking. Raymond’s horror is well done as are Waring’s petulant, malevolent mood changes and Watkins’s urbane reasonableness which is, of course, only a front.

Also in the mix are Issy Van Randwyck as a dotty, German woman with a talent for clairvoyance – amusing because she’s so unsmilingly serious – and Philip Childs who turns out a pleasing performance as the visiting attorney who really doesn’t know what’s going on.

Michael Holt’s set conforms to Lewin’s instructions with Bruhl’s weapon collection in cases and a nice old fashioned chimney breast all of which he has fitted it neatly into the Mill’s odd shaped playing space. The sound track designed by Graham Weymouth and Henry Horn is bit odd with some sounds so soft that once or twice I mistook the hum or ticking for extraneous noise from elsewhere in the building. The Vivaldi and Britten extracts fit the bill, nicely however.




Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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