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Previewed 21 August 2010, Opened 7 September 2010, Closed 15 January 2011 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London
A major revival of Ira Levin's comedy thriller Deathtrap in London starring Simon Russell Beale and Jonathan Groff and directed by Matthew Warchus.
Writer Sidney Bruhl's plays used to be box office gold, but his last few productions have flopped. But when a young unknown writer gives him a copy of a thriller for some input, Bruhl sees an opportunity to resurrect his career...
The cast for Deathtrap in London features Simon Russell Beale as 'Sydney Bruhl' along with Claire Skinner as 'Myra Bruhl', Jonathan Groff as 'Clifford Anderson', Terry Beaver as 'Porter Milgrim' and Estelle Parsons as 'Helga ten Dorp'. The production is directed by Matthew Warchus with designs by Rob Howell, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and music by Gary Yerson.
"'Please keep the plot a secret and don't spoil the fun for future audiences,' says a note in the Deathtrap programme. As if. Nevertheless, it gives nothing away to say that Ira Levin's play is devilishly clever. It's a deliciously funny thriller in two acts, with one set, five characters and laughs in all the right places. And while Deathtrap is great fun, there's also a moment in Matthew Warchus's expertly-staged production when you will jump out of your skin. But the real reason for seeing it is Simon Russell Beale. He plays Sidney Bruhl, a once-successful playwright in desperate need of a hit... Russell Beale's Bruhl seems so easy to read, his face an open book reflecting his murderous envy and scheming imagination. As he shuffles about and runs his fingers through his hair, we think we know exactly what he's thinking. I hope it's not spoiling anything to say that it's all an act. He - like Levin, like Bruhl - is a master of deception, never quite what he appears, his timing miraculous. It's an unmissable performance. Still, following the first, fantastic twist, it's impossible to sustain the level of thrills and laughs, though there's much to enjoy in the character of the batty psychic who senses bad karma in the room. Estelle Parsons plays her with a hilariously bad Scandinavian-meets-Chinese accent and pronounces Deathtrap as 'Desstrap'. The production is also peppered with self-referential gags about thrillers, agents, producers and critics, which almost make up for creakier bits and the silly final scene." The Mail on Sunday
"Matthew Warchus, the director, loves breathing new life into old genres, and, while he hasn't quite done here for whodunnits what he did for farces with Boeing-Boeing, I'm inclined to resist the urge to plunge in the dagger. Whodunnits require big personalities in the major roles - such as Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine in the original film version of Sleuth - and this one doesn't disappoint, with Simon Russell Beale." The Sunday Telegraph
"Deathtrap appeared as a play in 1978, a huge success on Broadway, then as a film in 1982 with Michael Caine. It will help if you've never seen it before, as this is not a piece full of emotional nuances, rich language or appealing characters. Rather, it's all about twists and turns, shocks and surprises, and, once you know what's coming, there's little more to it... There is always Simon Russell Beale to be relished, though. Although this is a lightweight role for, some might say, our greatest stage actor, he invests it, as ever, with tremendous presence. He gives a brilliant comic impression of an older writer consumed with fear and loathing of the bright young things coming up in the outside lane, with his bulging eyes, his vexed silences, his glances flicking greedily back and forth, sinister and manic." The Sunday Times
The acclaimed stage actor Simon Russell Beale is an Associate Artist of both The Royal Shakespeare Company and The National Theatre. His extensive award-winning London theatre credits include winning all three 'Best Actor' awards (Evening Standard / Critics' Circle / Olivier Awards) for his roles in the double bill Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night (Donmar Warehouse 2002), the Evening Standard Theatre Award for 'Best Actor' for The Philanthropist (Donmar Warehouse 2005), the Critics' Circle Award for 'Best Shakespearean Performance' for the title role in Hamlet (National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre 2000 and transfer to Olivier Theatre) and the Olivier Award for 'Best Actor in a Musical' for Candide (National Theatre's Olivier Theatre 1999) and the Olivier Award for 'Best Supporting Performance' for Volpone (National Theatre's Olivier Theatre 1995). Simon Russell Beale's recent West End credits include performances in Tom Stoppard's Jumpers (National Theatre 2003, transferred Piccadilly Theatre 2003), Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale opposite Ethan Hawke (Old Vic 2009) and Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard opposite Ethan Hawke (Old Vic 2009).
Jonathan Groff is best known for his role in the hit television series Glee (as the lead vocalist of rival glee club, 'Vocal Adrenaline'). On Broadway he created the role of 'Melchior Gabor' in the original cast of the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening. His other New York stage roles include 'Claude' in the musical Hair and playing opposite Olympia Dukakis in Craig Lucas' The Singing Forest, both for The Public Theatre.
Estelle Parsons has had an extensive career, both on film - winning the Oscar for 'Best Actress in a Supporting Role' for the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, on television - playing Roseanne's mother 'Beverly' in the award-winning television sitcom Roseanne, and on stage - most recently in the award-winning play August: Osage County on Broadway and tour.
Claire Skinner is perhaps best known for her role as 'Clare' in the ITV comedy Life Begins and, more recently, as the mother 'Sue' in the BBC comedy series Outnumbered. Her London stage credits include The Glass Menagerie (Donmar Warehouse 1995 and transfer to Comedy Theatre) for which she won the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for 'Best Actress'.
Acclaimed New York stage and screen actor Terry Beaver has numerous credits to his name including, on television, Now and Again, Benjamin Franklin, Law and Order, Special Victims Unit and Moonlighting; and in theatre, the Broadway production of Inherit the Wind, The Man Who Came To Dinner with The Roundabout Theater Company and The Last Night of Ballyhoo which won both the Tony and Outer Critics Awards for 'Best Broadway Play'.
Ira Levin's Deathtrap was originally presented on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre on 26 February 1978 where is played for just over 1,800 performances. The production opened in London's West End at the Garrick Theatre on 26 October 1978 where it played for just under 1,000 performances. Deathtrap was made into a film in 1982 starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve along with Dyan Cannon, Irene Worth and Henry Jones.
Deathtrap in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 21 August 2010, opened on 7 September 2010 and closed on 15 January 2011.