Poole & Parkstone Productions [P&P Productions]    The Barrington Centre & Theatre, Ferndown

Carole Gadsby  21 March 2024

This play may well be over 40 years old, but it still packs a thrilling punch. Such a clever plot which keeps the audience guessing throughout. Sydney Bruhl (Bob Rankin) is a struggling playwright, his latest Broadway play is a critical flop, he therefore retreats to his Long Island home with his wife Myra (Veronica Ryder). Bob makes the role his own from beginning to end, his timing is impeccable and he is able to capture the attention of the audience throughout, you are waiting with baited breath for the next bit, sitting on the edge of your chair. The magnitude of the number of lines he has to learn is amazing. His loyal wife Myra, perfectly cast, complements him and is quite believable as the adoring wife – or is she?

He has a copy of a play called Deathtrap written by an aspiring young playwright Clifford Anderson (Simon Langford), whom he met at a Seminar. He’s bitterly jealous and wants to get his hands on the original script and make it his own, hence he has invited him to his house. The question now is would he kill for a new play and get his fame back? The twists and turns never stop and leave the audience whooping with glee. Myra, his wife of 11 years, is very hesitant at going along with him but eventually succumbs. Sydney invites Clifford to the remote house and asks him to bring the original drafts. Simon was superb in his portrayal of the role, and particularly the physicality and delivery of the fight scenes between the two of them, they were well staged and executed. The tension is maintained by shocking the audience and this production certainly does that by making you focus on the performers on one part of the stage, then abruptly changing direction.

Then comes the arrival of Helga Tan Dorp, the psychic neighbour, played by Clare I’Anson who also produced the play. Her appearance and characterisation of the part was fabulous, she played the part with intensity and simmering suspicions which added to the comic moments and heated up the tension. I felt quite disappointed when she left the stage, her full of life character added colour to the stage. Lastly Porter Milgrim, played by Angus Maule, whom I am sure is very used to treading the boards and brought to the play his experience and expertise.

The five characters are well cast and acted, each easily establishing their distinctive characteristics and reinforces the audiences understanding of the author’s intentions. A few issues with the patio doors not remaining shut, but this didn’t distract from the overall ambience. Plus, Simon getting the giggles when he heard the doorbell ring before it rang all add to opening night fun!

The production team did a super job, lighting and sound seemed to go according to plan and I believe Sally Hadlington (the prompt) was almost redundant. Overall, the performance was a great success and did not disappoint. If you haven’t already done so, go out and buy tickets, you will have a super night out.

Well done.