Wednesday, 25 August 2010

'Deathtrap' at the Noel Coward Theatre

Last night we went to see 'Deathtrap' at the Noel Coward Theatre with the ever-watchable Simon Russell Beale as the central character, a writer of plays in the thriller genre. And that is what 'Deathtrap' is, a thriller, but with an awful lot of comedy in there as well. Simon's sidekick in the other central role is Jonathan Groff from Americaford and a TV series called 'Glee'. Now, I haven't seen a single episode of 'Glee' so I've no idea what he's like but there was an inordinate amount of young women in the theatre squealing and, no doubt, wetting themselves in excitement at seeing their hero on stage. I had three of them sitting beside me so I felt their joy first-hand.

I've never seen the play before but have vague recollections of the film with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve but I suspect I never saw the film all the way through. An ageing playwrite has run out of ideas and is sent a draft script by a former student that is a sure-fire Broadway hit. What can he possibly do except kill the student and claim the play as his own. I won't say any more to avoid spoiling the surprise (and I was more than surprised, I nearly jumped in shock) but the first half is very good with its plot twists and turns. The second half is less convincing since the major plot device was exposed in the first half and it rather spirals and bumps along rather than anything else. Especially the end - they need to do something to signal the play has ended so we can start clapping (it's still in preview so hopefully they'll fix that). Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it's a good night out.

Simon Russell Beale was, of course, excellent, with the right amount of comedy and menace. He certainly out-acted Jonathan Groff who seemed rather reactive and tentative to me - or maybe that's how he's supposed to play it? He had a really annoying habit of brushing his hair back from his face with his hands all the time - um, it's not that long y'know, it's not in your eyes and it looks very affected so stop it. The other roles were played by Claire Skinner (in an awful brown trouser-suit thing to date it in the '70s), Terry Beaver and the excellent Estelle Parsons as a generic European in America who happens to be psychic and predicts the rest of the play ... or does she? I thought she was great fun throughout.

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