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

Let's do the twist


Highbury Theatre Centre


THE IMBd website states Ira Levin's trademark as being `Far-fetched plot twists and clever storylines'. Levin who died in 2007 certainly left an impressive legacy of surreal and intense writing both in novel and drama form, such as the Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby, and this play is no exception.

Deathtrap is a `Russian doll' kind of a story and it's possible that you may have seen the film version with Michael Caine and a young Christopher Reeve. It was originally written as a play and for me works better in the theatre as the mechanics within the plot are ironic and very clever.

Sidney Bruhl is a successful playwright but bereft of a recent hit. He seemingly becomes the associate of a young student and playwright but after a startling opening to their working relationship the pair drift back and forth between suspicion and possible lies. They take the audience along with them until you eventually and genuinely don't know what will happen next.

The young man goes to stay with his mentor to write a new work and we come to find out that the play he is writing is the play we are watching. This is cleverly retold right down to how we the audience have reacted up to a certain point.

Bruhl is played by Richard Irons and this central part is no light undertaking (no pun intended). Overall he handles the weight of the role with style but at times lacked a certain cruel energy that a scheming, successful but jealous, creative older man might have for a talented student. His best moments come when he faces his younger rival but throughout did really well to describe the myriad of twists and red herrings.


That younger rival is student writer Clifford Anderson played confidently by newcomer Jack Hobbis. Hobbis is a welcome addition and something of a find to the Highbury team as his performance was fresh and had a real edge to it. Irons and Hobbis were a solid and believable pairing and I will look forward to seeing Mr Hobbis in future productions.

Gwen Evans played Myra , Sidney's wife and although physically not a genuine opposite to Mr irons she injected some real emotion when one particularly gruesome act came about, controlling her potential hysteria under the guise of real shock, before becoming a victim herself.

Helga ten Dorp played by Marcelle Burnhope is the dotty psychic neighbour and Reg Tolley took on the supporting role of Porter Milgrim, Bruhls legal advisor. Both completed their task with flair.

Directed by Hazel Tolley the production was nicely balanced and the addition of a few well-placed soundtracks added nicely to the atmosphere.

It can be the case in amateur theatre that it is the play that gets murdered but on this night the players presented an excellent and at times `shocking' evening's entertainment in the best sense of the word.

One general footnote I would add is that Theatres need to start repeating the ‘Mobile phones to be switched off ‘message again after an interval. It seems many weak souls can't resist switching them back on during the break. One lady actually took a call at the start of the play then received two text messages during the second act and if that is not a motive for a theatrical murder then I don't what is. To 17-11-12.

Jeff Grant 

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