When master of suspense Ira Levin first conceived of DEATHTRAP, he probably never thought that he would end up with a bestseller and the 1968 Edgar Award for best novel. But wonders never cease, and Levin subsequently won another Edgar Award for best play in 1978 when he adapted his comedy thriller for the stage. On top of that, DEATHTRAP would run for almost 1,800 performances and secure the record of longest-running comedy-thriller on Broadway. But DEATHTRAP gained yet another remarkable record for female lead Marion Seldes, who never missed one performance over the three plus years the popular play ran; check out the Guinness Book of Records. DEATHTRAP was also adapted to a hit film starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeves .Now Levin, the author of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Stepford Wives,” brings DEATHTRAP to Long Beach just in time for Halloween.
Poor Sydney Bruhl (Geoffrey Lower) is a dried-out playwright of murder mysteries who has hit the proverbial writer’s block big time. He longs for his earlier days of stellar fame and fortune. Enter talented but unknown aspiring playwright Clifford Anderson (Coby Rogers), Bruhl’s former workshop student. When Anderson sends Bruhl a draft of his play, DEATHTRAP, it draws first the interest and then the envy of has-been Bruhl. How to return to his past glory through authorship of this potential smash Broadway hit? Of course, he could collaborate with young Anderson and share the renown and profits – or maybe there is a better way to gain control of DEATHTRAP. How will his loving but nervous wife Myra (Jill Remez) handle his murderous thoughts? And how will meddlesome psychic Helga ten Dorp (Michelle Holmes) and his attorney Porter Milgrim (Patrick Vest) fit into this tale?
A riotous series of surprises and twists and turns at every juncture await the audience. Director Jamie Torcellini has done a superb job of keeping the story moving from one intriguing and sometimes shocking event to the next while keeping his eye on the farcical nature of the ball. The excellent cast manages to scare and delight at the same time.
And let’s not forget the stunning work done by the creative team, including set design by Fred Kinney, lighting by Crystal R. Shomph, costumes by Kim DeShazo, sound by Dave Mickey, and props by Patty and Gordon Briles. The audience must look carefully at the brilliant details incorporated into every corner of the stage. Those really are chess pieces on the fireplace – and those really are pen and ink portraits of Marion Seldes. Pay attention to the clever posters adorning the walls. And let’s not forget the tabloid of weapons from yesteryear hanging on the wall. All in all, DEATHTRAP is really a successful group effort and is highly recommended for all audiences.
DEATHTRAP runs through November 5, 2023, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, 330 East Seaside Way, Long Beach, CA 90802. Tickets range from $49 (Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays) to $52 (Sunday matinees). For information and reservations, call 562-436-4610 or go online.