Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

An accent on Murder


The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


IT SEEMS that a good murder mystery is the stock item for a theatre's winter programme as often they are always set on some awful dark night with a howling wind and some well-placed lightning.

So it's no surprise that the Nonentities are digging up Ira Levin's skillfully crafted Deathtrap during this bitterly cold February.

Deathtrap is almost a blatant exercise in how to write a stage thriller as Levin openly deconstructs the necessary ingredients of such a play for the audience. It's as if he actually despised the whole set up but in doing so has written one of the most enduring pieces of its kind.

No matter how many times you see it though, the sight of a physical murder, even acted out, is not pleasant to watch and never fails to draw the gasps from an attentive audience.

Chris Clarke as Sidney Bruhl, the written-out playwright and Nathan Lawrence as the young solution Clifford Anderson

With more red herrings, twists and turns than a maze full of fish mongers, Levin's plot features an older successful, but now clueless playwright, engaging the help of a younger writer to assist with more than the writing of just a few dramatic ideas.

Chris Clarke plays the aging Sidney Bruhl who to his credit manages to deliver a solid workmanlike performance throughout.

The play is set in Connecticut and Mr Clarke seemed to relocate that to the Bronx with a broad New York Italian accent. Effective as it was you did feel that at any time he might pull out a sub machine gun and `fill us all with lead.'

 It was that subtlety that was missing from much of play and there was a little too much `selling‘ from every one of the intention of murder or impending doom. Much to his credit though, as the role of Bruhl is quite an undertaking, Clarke did a fine job, stalling only once and kept up a great deal of energy throughout his performance.

The younger playwright Clifford Anderson was played by Nathan Lawrence who again did a great job of delivering this complex text and created some very convincing fight scenes with Clarke.

Sidney's wife Myra Bruhl was played by Sarah Isaacs and though she and Sidney made a convincing pairing there was an air of doubt and panic a little too early on about her Husband's evil intentions.

The Bruhls are joined occasionally by the crazy Physic, Helga Van Dorp, played by Vilma Watson who slipped in an out of an assortment of Nordic and Germanic accents while spiriting nicely around the stage.   

Brett Westwood was Porter Milgrim, Bruhls legal representative and Brett chose not engage in the accent stakes opting for a more local tone which oddly is closer to how they sound in New England anyway.

Director Ross Workman seems to have focused more on the humour in Deathtrap and while it's missing some of the finer details of jealousy and ambition it still makes for a gripping and gruesome night of entertainment.  To 02-03-12.

Jeff Grant 

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