Deathtrap review at Dundee Rep Theatre – ‘an entertaining revival’
Ira Levin’s tightly plotted thriller, first staged in 1978, is delivered with maximum impact in Johnny McKnight’s entertaining revival.
The production boasts a trio of bright and intelligent performances. Lewis Howden is perfectly cast as Sidney Bruhl, a once-successful playwright with writer’s block whose jealousy goes into overdrive when his writing student, Clifford, sends him a sure-fire hit script for his appraisal.
Howden’s shambling, avuncular performance never ceases to convince, even when he suggests that murder might be on the cards if he invites Clifford round to help him work on his play.
Emily Winter bustles around effectively as his wife, Myra, first laughing along with Sidney’, then becoming increasingly shocked and horrified as his murderous plan becomes a reality. Tom England is suitably gauche as the young would-be playwright who doesn’t know what is coming.
The action plays out on Kenny Miller’s bright, almost but not-quite garish set, and lighting and sound are used to help spring the thrills. The metatheatrical nature of the play – Clifford’s script is also called Deathtrap – is also well handled. But it’s the naturalism and chemistry in the relationship between the two men that makes the strongest impression.
In contrast, Irene Macdougall, as psychic neighbour Helga ten Dorp, and Ewan Donald as attorney Porter Milgrim, are far more broadly comic. Nor does it help that a final scene, played for laughs, struggles to achieve the impact of anything that has gone before.
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