Underground Productions’ first show of the season is the murder mystery play Deathtrap under the direction of Megan Gansberg.
The play, first penned by Ira Levin in 1978, was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play, and in 1982, the play was adapted for screen by Jay Presson Allen, starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. Deathtrap also holds the record for the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway.
A thriller in two acts. One room, five characters, laughs in all the right places…
The story begins with the former glorified playwright Sidney Bruhl who returns home from the opening night of his newest murder mystery, which the critics declared as a certifiable flop. Desperate to be back on the rise (and no longer smooch off his wife’s bank account), fiction becomes blurred with fact when a young gun sends his brilliant new script for advice from the master.
At first, it would seem the play runs a predictable course, but then the twists and turns surprising start to pop up, regaining our interest in the piece. However, it is not the story that keeps our attention, but the acting of the small cast. Ezra Winston as the playwright Sidney Bruhl, was strong and played the unassuming villain in a charming almost John Cleese – like way at times. Alex Hines was also a stand-out as the psychic Helga Ten Dorp. Hines stole the limelight every time she walked on stage. It does help that she has the funniest lines, but it was Hines’ skill that managed to execute each moment with comic precision. Rounding out the five-hander cast was Patrick Aiken as the young playwright, Tiffany Treloar as Sidney’s cynical wife, and John Vizcay-Wilson as the accountant.
One of the things I have admired about Underground Productions’ works I have seen is that they fully dress the set – a rare treat these days. However, being the resident student theatre company at The University of Queensland in St Lucia, I was expecting a much more contemporary play that would reach a younger audience. Perhaps updating the style, characters, and set design would have bridged this gap.
Deathtrap will play at the Schonnel Theatre in St Lucia till 9 March.
More information: www.undergroundproductions.org.au