Skip to main content

Deathtrap


Dundee Rep
Four stars

If there was any justice, what happens in play-writing class should stay in play-writing class in Ira Levin’s 1970s comedy thriller, revived here by Dundee Rep Ensemble in Johnny McKnight’s forensically dissected production. There’s no chance of that, alas, in veteran pulp thriller hack Sidney Bruhl and his young charge Clifford Anderson’s world. Sidney has lost his mojo following a series of flops, but when he reads a play called Deathtrap by wannabe genius Clifford, he smells a hit. With wife and apparent accomplice Myra in tow, Sidney concocts a half-jokey plot to kill the kid and pass off his play as his own.

What follows as Levin’s yarn twists and turns its way towards a not entirely inevitable denouement is so darn knowing it practically winks at an audience who lap up this sort of thing. Like an extended episode of Inside No 9 as directed by Ryan Murphy, Levin’s post-modern high-jinks are plotted like a well-oiled if somewhat eccentric machine programmed to surprise the audience and raise the stakes as high as you like.

With type-writers to the fore, Kenny Miller’s set is a grandiloquent 3D masterpiece of retro-vintage chic that becomes the suitably dramatic backdrop for the scene of a crime that’s never over-done by McKnight. As Sidney, Lewis Howden is an avuncular but sly old fox, with Emily Winter’s Myra egging him on like a Stepford Lady Macbeth. Thomas England’s preppy Clifford may be too smart for his own good, but it’s left to Ewan Donald’s oily lawyer to count the cost. The only person in the room who can really see what’s coming next is Swedish psychic next door Helga ten Dorp, here given an eye-popping cameo by a deadpan Irene Macdougall in an obsessive piece of psychotic largesse.

The Herald, February 23rd 2018

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Carla Lane – The Liver Birds, Mersey Beat and Counter Cultural Performance Poetry

Last week's sad passing of TV sit-com writer Carla Lane aged 87 marks another nail in the coffin of what many regard as a golden era of TV comedy. It was an era rooted in overly-bright living room sets where everyday plays for today were acted out in front of a live audience in a way that happens differently today. If Lane had been starting out now, chances are that the middlebrow melancholy of Butterflies, in which over four series between 1978 and 1983, Wendy Craig's suburban housewife Ria flirted with the idea of committing adultery with successful businessman Leonard, would have been filmed without a laughter track and billed as a dramady. Lane's finest half-hour highlighted a confused, quietly desperate and utterly British response to the new freedoms afforded women over the previous decade as they trickled down the class system in the most genteel of ways. This may have been drawn from Lane's own not-quite free-spirited quest for adventure as she moved through h