|Booking From:||Friday, 20th August 2010|
|Booking Until:||Saturday, 15th January 2011|
|Matinees:||Wednesday and Saturday 3pm|
|Evenings:||Monday to Saturday 7:30pm|
When it comes to forgotten comedys, Matthew Warchus is the director with the Midas touch. Over the last 3 years, Warchus has directed hit comedies Boeing Boeing, The Norman Conquests and La Bete as well as Yazmin Reza's new play God of Carnage. All of these have played to packed houses on both sides of the Atlantic, winning numerous awards in the process. Deathtrap looks to continue this trend and for the most part it succeeds. Ira Levin's (author of Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives and The Boys From Brazil) 1978 play is back in the West End with a superb, award winning cast.
A comedy thriller, Deathtrap opens with struggling thriller playwright Sidney (Simon Russel Beale) finishing reading a play (with the same name as the title) that Clifford (Jonathan Groff) a student has sent it to him for his expert opinion. Declaring the play to be a masterpiece, a he displays his anger and bitterness over his own career, which has taken a turn for the worse. He laments his loss of form, taking his frustrations out on long suffering wife Myra (Claire Skinner) while she keeps them afloat financially while the hits have dried up for Sidney. He hatches a plan to have his student come over to their house for some notes and advice on the script with a view of taking advantage of the young playwright. But dark thoughts are manifesting within Sidney's mind. How far is he prepared to go to be a hit playwright once more?
The production is impressive and give value for money by the visuals alone. Rob Howell's sharp edged barn conversion covered with various weapons that have been given to Sidney as tributes to or props used in productions of his plays. The laughs come thick and fast in the first half with Simon Russel Beale in top form as the acid tongued Sidney. Claire Skinner is in fine form too as his pot smoking wife with a heart condition and hippy undertones. Their differing energies compliment each other brilliantly. Jonathan Groff is strong and handsome as young playwright Clifford while star comic turn belongs to the Academy Award winning Estelle Parsons as their psychic neighbour Helga who's kooky predictions have a foreboding feel. The first half of the play is particularly good with the laughs coming thick and fast while the tension continues to build. The second half is never quite matches the fervour of the first and the cute idea of a play within a play being written while the play is unfolding is amusing, it is not a big enough idea to engage in the same way as the Hitchcock like thriller first half.
Still, this is a sharp, funny thriller with laughs, scares and twists aplenty is well worth a watch. While you may not feel like it has enlarged your grasp of humanity, it is certainly an entertaining way to spend two hours.
Deathtrap by Ira Levin at Noel Coward Theatre, 85–88 St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4AU
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