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Deathtrap at New Alexandra Theatre - Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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EatsEnders Stars In Killer Show
Billed as a comedy thriller, Deathtrap probably makes you laugh more than it gives you a fright, but it's definitely a memorable tale of murder and mayhem.

deathtrap, jessie wallace, paul bradley, thriller, new alexandra theatre
Well known faces of Jessie Wallace and Paul Bradley in Deathtrap

Already renowned for being the longest-running comedy-thriller in Broadway history, the show has crime buffs chomping at the bit for its tour to New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from November 7 to 11.

Using dramatic music to shake up the crowd from the outset, the show grabs your attention, despite the first 15 minutes being relatively sedate as it sets the scene.

There's actor Paul Bradley, of Holby City and EastEnders fame, as thriller author Sidney Bruhl, who is suffering with writer's block. We join him as he's explaining to his wife, played by another EastEnders favourite Jessie Wallace, how he's been sent a brilliant new thriller by an unknown playwright and is tempted to kill him and pass it off as his own.

It's when this author, Clifford Anderson, turns up that things start to step up a pace and the plot gets more and more crazy and comedic with the addition of the local psychic Helga ten Dorp. Dorp is played fantastically over the top by actress Beverley Klein.

deathtrap, jessie wallace, paul bradley, thriller, new alexandra theatre
Twists and turns in thriller Deathtrap

Soon, everything you know seems turned on its head and there are twists and turns galore. All in all, Deathtrap is pretty bonkers, but it's a lot of fun too.

The performance is extremely tongue-in-cheek and as its central character is a crime writer, there's a lot of discussion about the format of murder mysteries and what the audience would like.

Jessie Wallace, normally seen shouting cockney across Albert Square as Kat Slater, offers a more debonair performance for this show and puts on a decent American accent too.

She gives a good performance but is overshadowed by Bradley, known for playing Nigel Bates in EastEnders and Professor Elliot Hope in Holby City. His character is key to the whole play and he gives a suitably zestful performance.

deathtrap, jessie wallace, paul bradley, thriller, new alexandra theatre
Jessie Wallace is taking to the stage after years as Kat Slater in EastEnders

Written by Ira Levin in 1978, Deathtrap gained notoriety for holding the record for the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway - running for four years with almost 1,800 performances. The play was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.

It may be nearly 40 years since it was created but it is still memorable and unique.

It's a quirky piece of theatre with a good body count (a note for the avid who-dunnit fan) that also pays homage to some of the great thrillers of all time. During breaks in scenes, a TV screen is lowered down showing clips from classics like Gaslight, Dial For Murder and Witness For The Prosecution.

deathtrap, jessie wallace, paul bradley, thriller, new alexandra theatre
Will Deathtrap keep you guessing?

It's as much light relief as it is a murder mystery. Fun, cunning and a show where you never know what's coming next, it's no wonder Deathtrap became a long-running hit.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

For DeathTrap tickets, visit the New Alexandra Theatre website. Tickets cost from 15.50.

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Why? See a famous long-running comedy thriller
When: November 7 - 11, 2017
Phone: 0844 871 3011
Where: New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
Cost: From 15.50
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