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Deathtrap (Oldham)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Recently revived in London, Deathtrap, the fantastically funny thriller by Ira Levin is now gracing the stage at the Oldham Coliseum in a production that is worthy of the West End stage itself.
To reveal too much of the story would spoil the fun, as this is a night of twists and turns that keep you laughing in delight one minute and jumping out of your skin the next. What I can tell you is that it’s about a playwright called Sidney Bruhl whose career as a writer of stage thrillers has stalled in recent years. If that was not bad enough he has now read the most brilliant play, destined to be a hit by a young up and comer who is looking to Sidney for advice, but is the play really so great that he will kill for it?
This smart and funny premise makes for an evening of sheer entertainment, as the snappy dialogue and wonderful witty asides, coupled with theatrical references are completely on the mark and often lulls you in to a false sense of security, just like a good thriller should. The twists are genuinely clever and whilst at times absurd, they never go too far (this is after all a black comedy).
Foxton's set design is impressive to say the least, as the oppulence and and scale, along with evocative lighting draws you in to the action and seta the tone perfectly. The famous fight and action scenes are choreographed with great imagination and flair, too .
Although the play - Deathtrap is great, its success demands good casting and at Oldham the performers relish playing these parts and it shows. Andrew Cullimore as Clifford oozes charm and sly menace throughout and Roberta Kerr provides many of the laughs as the spookily accurate psychic Helga.

The night, however belongs to Steven Pinder whose take on Sidney is nothing short of brilliant, from frustrated novelist to devious manipulator he does it all with such glee. Having enjoyed Pinder’s work in the past,  it’s safe to say - this is a role he was born to play.
So a thrilling piece of theatre, but catch it whilst you can - as it is playing for the next 3 weeks but with the UK screaming out for a national tour it’s a shame a show of this high standard is only playing one venue.

Deathtrap is a play to die for!

- Craig Hepworth


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