Comedy Thriller by Ira Levin
Directed by David Yen
For tickets / schedule :
Spreckels Performing Arts Center
Rohnert Park, CA
Spreckels Theatre Company, Encore Presentation

RUN: March 20-April 12, 2015
RATING: 5 of 5 stars

(March 27, 2015)

In the tradition of Dial M for Murder and Gas Light, Deathtrap has more twists than Lombard Street in San Francisco. The dialog is captivating and witty, leaving the audience poised at the edge of seats wondering what will happen next. The plot revolves around a languishing playwright whose success is receding into the distant past. Desperate for another smash hit, will he resort to murder? Ira Levin wrote his first thriller in 1953, the novel A Kiss Before Dying. He entered the realm of theatre with a successful adaption of No Time for Sergeants. Deathtrap is the longest-running thriller in Broadway history, and his popular novels include Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, both of which were adapted for cinema.


John Shillington as Sydney Bruhl, the playwright, sparkled with well timed comedy, yet managed to terrify in his moments of violent machinations. Karen Clancy as Myra Bruhl embodied a devoted wife with passion of her own. The young playwright Clifford Anderson, Benjamin Sweeney Acedo, masterfully wove together the play-within-a-play motif in an entirely convincing manner. Eccentric Helga ten Dorp, mollie boice, glided across the stage, delighting with her eerie predictions. A brief, yet pivotal role, Garet Waterhouse as Porter Milgrim bumbled into the thriller with a dose of normal life, bringing a balance into otherwise intense scenes.

The set for Deathtrap was rather like my own house, with a penchant for displaying antique weapons. I was captivated the moment I saw a 14th century longsword on the wall. To my delight, they were taken down and handled throughout the play, forming a tactile bond with the plot and characters. I particularly enjoyed how the crossbow was used.


What I found most engaging is how the play delves into what inspires writers, and the difficulty in finding material when losing confidence in oneself. Deathtrap is captivating, suspenseful, and comedic all in one evening. The play never lags, always ready to startle with new revelations and a change in perspective. For murder mystery and thriller enthusiasts, this is not a play to miss. Spreckels has outdone themselves with this production.