REVIEW: Deathtrap

Ottawa Little Theatre continues celebrating their 100th season with play #6 of 10: Ira Levin’s Deathtrap. Produced by Ottawa Little Theatre previously in the 70s and turned into a movie starring Michael Caine in the 80s, Deathtrap is the longest running thriller-comedy on Broadway.

Should you see it?

Production Ottawa review for Deathtrap, running at the Ottawa Little TheatreIra Levin’s Deathtrap has a fairly innocuous set-up; a formerly successful and now struggling playwright has a can’t lose script fall into his hands. The trivial detail of his not being the author isn’t able to compare with dreams of dollar signs and so the question becomes: will he resort to murder to have his name on the byline?

Being a thriller, people die. Or do they? It wouldn’t be fun if it was predictable and Deathtrap is one question after another about who’s really screwing who and what’s really going on. If you’re a fan of thrillers, Deathtrap is a fun one, full of shocks, twists, and surprises that you’re not likely to see coming—assuming you haven’t seen the show (or movie) before.

And if you have?

Production Ottawa reviews Deathtrap, running at the Ottawa Little TheatreLet’s take as given that you liked what you saw enough to sit through it again and you want to do more than just pop in the DVD. And one of the great things about this script are the referential nods to writing a play while the story of that play plays out on stage. It’s all very meta and something that makes this a unique show to see play out on stage (as opposed to throwing in the DVD).

You’ll get a sense of it from the lovely weapon-strewn set but director John Collins made a point in his show notes and in our media interview about the show being “full frontal” – meaning being as open and visible with the twists and action as possible. This feels almost a necessity in a play many people will be familiar with but what we’re treated to thanks to his decision to put everything right out in front of you is a level of action and stunts and violence not seen too often on stage in Ottawa, especially at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Guns and stabbings and tumbles from a balcony are just a few things you can expect.

Production Ottawa reviews Deathtrap, running at the Ottawa Little TheatreLawrence Evenchick hits all the right beats as Sidney Bruhl and once the play gets rolling, Dan DeMarbre does a good turn as up-and-coming playwright Clifford Anderson though I never fully bought into his starstruck awe at meeting his idol in the first scene he shares with Sidney. Diana Franz also did a fine job as Sidney’s wife, Myra, and Angela Pelly brought a lot of laugh’s as the psychic, Helga ten Dorp.

Individually, each character was where they needed to be, but together the chemistry between them sometimes felt lacking – like a couple of moments that felt like they should have been laughs but ended up falling flat.

Oh the whole though Deathtrap was well-executed and enjoyable – particularly because I wasn’t at all familiar with the story beforehand and got to enjoy the turns for the first time.

But that’s just my opinion and I want to know what you thought. Did Deathtrap frighten the pants off of you? Had you seen the movie or another theatrical production of Deathtrap before this one? Join the discussion and let me know in the comments below.

Due to the late publication of this review, you only have one week left to see Deathtrap at the Ottawa Little Theatre. If you want more information, including photos and videos and ticket purchase info, check out our preview for the show.

Photos in this article taken for Production Ottawa by Production Ottawa photographer, Eduardo Sousa.

Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

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