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Deathtrap rattles a few windows – Queen’s Theatre review

November 8, 2013

Writer Dave Ross outside the borough’s Jewel in the Crown- The Queen’s Theatre in Billet Lane Hornchurch

With more twists and turns than the present coalition government, the Panto penultimate theatre presentation in Hornchurch had us all jumping out of our seats.

Deathtrap by Ira Levin was a definite mix of emotions, which is not surprising as it came from the pen of the creator of Rosemary’s Baby and the Boys from Brazil.

It also gave Associate Director, Matt Devitt the chance to let loose his exciting and vivid imagination on stage.

Playing the main role of Sidney Bruhl,  Matt’s portrayal of the declining playwright was spot on.

With a number of noble failures to his credit, the once prolific Bruhl, has literally lost the plot and turns to dark thoughts when presented with masterful script from an unknown.

Inviting the writer to his house one dark and stormy night, the plot then circumnavigates like a sat-nav short circuiting between the Disney and Stephen King  satellites.

It also gives Matt the chance to exercise is undoubted talent in stagecraft, a masterful demonstration of facial and body language where words are often superfluous.

Add to that the humour of the twinkling eye, then the dark plot becomes tinted with colour and the odd fairy bell ringing in the background.

The magic of the play is in the finite thin line between rabid fear and someone shouting ‘boo’ in the dark.

In construction it is very clever and was well adapted by Matt who also directed it.

The other great advantage of the Queen’s is the pool of talented actors contained within the resident company ‘Cut to the Chase’.

Elliot Harper was the unknown writer and played his role with deep sympathy for an individual plagued by doubts of his own ability, but bordering on the cusp of self confidence.

A superb actor in many roles on the Queen’s stage, he also played the multi faceted character expertly plunging into the depths of ingratiating Uriah Heap to the revenge of Superman with a Kryptonite fraternity ring pressy.

Much grappling followed which was spiced by the Devitt encyclopaedia of facial expressions that laid out the route for the turns and counter turns.

The spice to the play was added by a delightfully over the top performance from Bibi Nerheim who played the Blythe Spirit equivalent of Madame Arcati, the formidable neighbour from hell, Helga Ten Dorp.

Bibi’s clever interpretation was like introducing pop up traffic lights on the M6.

Her make up was superb and I challenge anyone to identify her in the bar after the show.

Anna Skye took the serious part of the almost psychotic Myra Bruhl and was excellent in spicing up the plot with an injection of reality.

Queen’s favourite Simon Jessop finished the cast with walk on part of smooth haired lawyer, Porter Milgrim.

It all worked very well and helped by the inspired set designed by Norman Coates and built by John Ayers and his workshop team.

A good and enjoyable run up to the festive season and well worth seeing.

One thing that always lightly rankles with me is British actors doing American accents. Though the players maintained the level well, there was the odd slip between tension tinged lines. It made me wonder if like Will Shakespeare’s many fine plays, this one would have had a tad more impact if the players were in Brighton instead of Broadway.

The play runs until Saturday November 16 and tickets are available from the box office on 01708 443333.

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