Deathtrap

Date 15th June 2013
Society Washington Theatre Group
Venue Arts Centre, Washington
Type of Production Play
Director Marie Lovell, Co-director Rachel Neill

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Author: Gordon Richardson

This comedy thriller was the first summer production of the group this season, and had more twists and turns than a Scottish Highlands road.  The original play ran for over four years on New York’s Broadway and was based on the premise of how far would you go to write a bestselling play, and equally how far would you go to stop the play getting to the stage.  The plot was set in the home of successful playwright Sidney Bruhl (Kevin Malley) which he shared with his sickly wife Myra Bruhl (Sarah Clarke).  Sidney was suffering from writer’s block and, at the suggestion of his wife, brings budding protégé Clifford Anderson (Peter Marshall) into their home.  Sidney promptly murders Clifford in order to plagiarise his work.  Myra, now ‘on the edge’, is tipped over it by the reappearance of Clifford late in the first act, causing her to have a heart attack and die in what was an elaborate plot reversal hatched by Sidney to get his hands on his wife’s money.

As the plot twisted even further neighbour and clairvoyant Helga ten Dorp (Claire Hunter) has, through her ‘gift’, predicted the whole event, sadly however not having seen vital evidence.
The play mimicked ‘real life’ and ‘real life’ mimicked the play as it referenced itself throughout.  Even more twists were to unfold as Sidney’s attorney friend Porter Milgrim (Mathew Lowe), appeared, and was not quite what he seemed with eventually all five characters having been murdered – or were they?

Like all good thrillers the action was a little slow at first as the scene was set in this slow burner.  Once the first of the many twists came along, however, the pace rattled along at a goodly speed.  Whilst not having laugh-out-loud moments, the comedy shone through with some good one liners as the audience appreciated the dramatic irony. Accents by and large were fine and the fixed set well dressed.  As a venue, the Arts Centre is well suited to plays, and lighting and sound effects added to the enjoyment.  All characters in this (Sidney’s words) “two acts with one set and five characters” played their roles well, and an enjoyable night’s entertainment was the result.  Well done Washington TG