Comedy thriller by Ira Levin. 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...
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.
1978: Original West End London Production at the Garrick Theatre
Previewed 24 October 1978, Opened 26 October 1978, Closed 7 February 1981 at the Garrick Theatre
The ORIGINAL cast from Tuesday 24 October 1978 to Saturday 21 July 1978 featured Denis Quilley as 'Sidney Bruhl', Rosemary McHale as 'Myra Bruhl', Philip Sayer as 'Clifford Anderson', Joyce Grant as 'Helga ten Dorp', and David Healy as 'Porter Milgrim'.
The SECOND cast from Monday 23 July 1979 to Saturday 7 February 1981 featured Gareth Hunt as 'Sidney Bruhl' (up to Saturday 26 April 1980), William Franklyn as 'Sidney Bruhl' (from Monday 28 April 1980), Joanna Doubleday as 'Myra Bruhl', David Yelland as 'Clifford Anderson' (up to Saturday ? May 1980), Andrew Sharp as 'Clifford Anderson' (from Monday ? May 1980), Sheila Keith as 'Helga ten Dorp', and Bob Sessions as 'Porter Milgrim'.
Directed by Michael Blakemore, with designs by William Ritman, and lighting by Spike Gaden.
2010: 1st West End London Revival at the Noel Coward Theatre
Previewed 21 August 2010, Opened 7 September 2010, Closed 15 January 2011 at the Noel Coward Theatre
A major revival of Ira Levin's comedy thriller Deathtrap in London starring Simon Russell Beale and Jonathan Groff
The cast featured Simon Russell Beale as 'Sydney Bruhl', Claire Skinner as 'Myra Bruhl', Jonathan Groff as 'Clifford Anderson', Terry Beaver as 'Porter Milgrim', and Estelle Parsons as 'Helga ten Dorp'.
Directed by Matthew Warchus, with designs by Rob Howell, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, music by Gary Yerson, and sound by Simon Baker.
Simon Russell Beale's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Yermolai Alexseyevich Lopakhin' in Sam Mendes' revival of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard at the Old Vic Theatre in 2009; 'Leontes' in Sam Mendes' revival of William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale at the Old Vic Theatre in 2009; 'Duff' in Iqbal Khan's revival of Harold Pinter's Landscape at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2008; 'Edward' in Iqbal Khan's revival of Harold Pinter's A Slight Ache at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2008; the title role in John Caird's revival of William Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre in 2005; 'Philip' in David Grindley's revival of Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist at the Donmar Warehouse in 2005; 'George' in David Leveaux's revival of Tom Stoppard's Jumpers at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre, and transfer to the Piccadilly Theatre in 2003; the title role in Sam Mendes' revival of Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya at the Donmar Warehouse in 2002; 'Malvolio' in Sam Mendes' revival of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Donmar Warehouse in 2002; 'Felix Humble' in John Caird's production of Charlotte Jones' Humble Boy at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre in 2001, and transfer to the West End's Gielgud Theatre in 2002; 'Iago' in Sam Mendes' revival of William Shakespeare's Othello at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre in 1997, and transfer to the Lyttelton Theatre in 1998; 'Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria' in Philip Franks' revival of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi at the Greenwich Theatre, and transfer to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre in 1995; 'Guildenstern' in Matthew Francis' revival of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1995; and 'Thersites' in Sam Mendes' revival of William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Pit Theatre in 1991.
"The play is a brilliant example of the thriller genre - a twisting plot of hidden meanings, shock-inducing moments, dark laughs and maze-like intrigue. With a wit as sharp as a murderer's blade, Levin actually wrote a clever satire on the art of the whodunit... Simon Russell Beale, as the desperate Bruhl, dominates the play with an often terrifying brilliance... Beale's sharp-edged delivery and consummate sense of comic timing give the part exceptional shine. He can transform his face in seconds, from the avuncular to the cold-eyed and sinister... Jonathan Groff is equally stylish as the would-be playwright Clifford Anderson. He, too, achieves a clever transition from eager-beaver boy writer into a chilling adversary. And Claire Skinner, as Bruhl's rather silly wife Myra, is a clever voyage in the art of being twittery... Director Matthew Warchus does a masterful job on keeping the tension intact and much praise must be given to designer Rob Howell's set... The play creaks in parts but is still a great show." The Daily Express
"Ira Levin's twisty, self-referential comedy thriller is a play about the creation of a play called Deathtrap - it's a pop at the very genre it fits into, which must also work as a suspense-laden murder-mystery. A tricky balance, but Matthew Warchus's West End revival stays pretty successfully on course, largely thanks to the magnetic presence of Simon Russell Beale as washed-up playwright Sidney Bruhl. When the script seems in danger of toppling under the weight of in-jokes about directors, critics and the mechanics of contriving a commercial hit, Beale's wonderfully sour delivery and spot-on comic timing haul it back from the brink... There are some longueurs in the second act, and sometimes the characters seem too much like cogs in an archly clever plot, but nevertheless this is great fun: Oscar winner Estelle Parsons's turn as batty psychic Helga Ten Dorp is a treat - and watch out for some surprisingly electric sexual tension." The London Metro
"Simon Russell Beale plays Sidney Bruhl, a once-successful playwright in desperate need of a hit. A manuscript arrives in the post which appears to tick every box - 'a thriller in two acts, one set, five characters and laughs in all the right places'. Bruhl invites the young author, Clifford, to bring the only copy of his manuscript to his Connecticut barn conversion decorated with weapons so that he can help him tweak the piece into a massive commercial triumph... Bruhl's wife Myra asks her husband the question we all want to ask: 'Would you kill someone to have a successful play?' 'Of course I would,' says Bruhl... 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... 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
Deathtrap in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 21 August 2010, opened on 7 September 2010, and closed on 15 January 2011.