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Deathtrap - Expect the Unexpected!

Myra Bruhl (Terri Brown) and Sidney Bruhl (Gary van Sluiters. Photo by Martin Pulley.

Deathtrap by Ira Levin, directed by Steve Crump, at Rugby Theatre running from 20 - 27 April 2024.

Review by Ann Evans


Expect the unexpected! No spoilers but this play is packed full of twists and turns that leap out at you when you least expect them.


There’s no question that this is an ingenious plot, humorous and sharp witted, written by the master of suspense, American author Ira Levin in 1978. Deathtrap holds the record for the longest-running comedy thriller on Broadway with around 1,100 performances and was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Play.

Bryn Richards as aspiring playwright Clifford Anderson. Photo by Martin Pulley.


Without giving anything away, this is the story of washed-up playwright Sydney Bruhl played by Gary Van Sluiters, who receives a script in the post entitled Deathtrap written by budding playwright Clifford Anderson - a big fan of Bruhl. 


Bruhl grudgingly acknowledges the play is far better than anything he has written recently, and with his wife Myra (Terri Brown) in on the plot, considers the possibility of murdering the younger writer and claiming the play as his own. He invites this young man to his house. An invitation Anderson willingly accepts - blissfully unaware that his life could be in danger.

Gary van Sluiters as Sidney Bruhl and Cheryl Ryan as psychic Helga ten Dorp. Photo by Martin Pulley.


And while that might seem a good, straightforward idea it certainly doesn't stay that way. The plot thickens and the situation becomes far more entwined and devious – a play within a play with a relentless series of unexpected twists and turns.


Adding to the drama and stressfulness of the situation, we are then introduced to their eccentric psychic neighbour, Helga ten Dorp, played fabulously and with great humour by Cheryl Ryan, who picks up on all the vibes the house has to offer including past activities and premonitions of what she fears is about to happen.   


All the action takes place in Sydney and Myra’s living room/office, and as the old adage says, if there's a gun hanging on the wall, at some point in the play that gun must be fired. In this play, not only are there guns on the wall, but knives, axes and crossbows. Plenty of potential murder weapons should the need arise! 

Playwright Sidney Bruhl (Gary van Sluiters) and his lawyer Porter Milgrim (Annie Peverelle). Photo by Martin Pulley.


The final member of the cast is Annie Peverelle who plays Porter Milgrim - Sydney's lawyer. All five actors play their parts well, but personally my favourites were Cheryl Ryan as psychic Helga, who got funnier and more outrageous as the play progressed; and newcomer to Rugby Theatre, Bryn Richards as the young writer Clifford Anderson who gave an excellent and believable performance from start to finish.


As ever the production team made the whole thing possible, with Steve Crump directing, Bev Avis-Dakin Assistant Director, Stage Manager Nick Ingram and Pete Mobbs; not forgetting the scenic designers and set builders, the sound, lighting, props, costumes, hair and make-up – plus all the behind the scenes and front of house people, who do an amazing job.


Deathtrap runs until 27 April, for tickets go to:




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