24 Apr

“The play was so well crafted that even a gifted director couldn’t ruin it.”*

This is one of the many very funny lines in Ira Levin’s Deathtrap, a hugely self-referential almost-parody of the thriller genre.

It is an exceedingly well crafted play. And director Jo Turner doesn’t ruin it. (That’s not to imply he’s not gifted.) Turner allows the actors to explore and fill the big playful characterizations this script requires.

Andrew Mc Farlane plays Sidney, the once successful playwright, desperate to relive his glory days. But how far is he willing to go to make this happen?

It’s difficult to discuss this play without spoilers. Let me just say that the performances are wonderful and the production is engaging.

Photo by Helen White

                   Photo by Helen White

I called it an almost-parody. If it was a total parody, then I think spoilers would be no problem; we’d be there for the humour, not the plot. But Deathtrap has it a little both ways. It’s hilarious, but there’s also genuine intrigue.

I found this duality unappealing. But then I find the whole thriller genre rather manipulative. I feel, that for the sake of the thrill, thrillers devalue human life. And they portray human nature in a most disturbing manner. In ‘thriller world’, people seem to commit murders the way they change superannuation plans.

But, of course, Ira Levin is fully aware of these type of criticisms. He has great fun with them. And clearly the audience I was part of enjoyed the show immensely…. and, I suspect, went off into the night quietly glad that thrillers are fundamentally dishonest.

Veronica Kaye

*Apologies to Ira Levin if I have misquoted. In ‘thriller world’ that’s cause enough for murder.

Deathtrap by Ira Levin

Eternity Playhouse til 10 May

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