Deathtrap at the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

by Julie Wallis

Deathtrap at the New Alexandra Theatre

Deathtrap by Ira Levin is at the New Alexandra theatre this week. A tense murder mystery with more twists than an ambidextrous octopus taking crochet lessons!

Staring Paul Bradley (EastEnders and Holby City) and Jessie Wallace (EastEnders) as Sidney and Myra Bruhl, a famous but flagging playwright and his wife. Sidney has writers block and is struggling with his next big play, but his wife has every faith that he will come up with another blockbuster.


The story only has five characters and there are five murders…

This was a genuinely scary thriller which made me jump. A lot. To the point that I did not dare hold my drink between sips having jumped so much in the first act I knew I would have thrown my drink all over the theatre had I been holding it. But it also has a few lighthearted moments and even a few chuckles. It’s not really a comedy but the occasional humour does relieve the tension just enough.


Paul Bradley and Jessie Wallace were both good, although they struggled to maintain their American accents at times. But they worked very well as a married couple. Sam Phillips as young playwright Clifford Anderson asking for advice with his career was excellent, and he never let his accent drop. He was likeable, believable and, in keeping with the genre, he too had a few surprises up his sleeve.

Beverley Klein plays the psychic neighbour Helga Ten Dorp. Helga is slightly dotty, slightly famous for her psychic abilities and a very over the top character. Helga also has a thick Eastern European accent and I felt that at times her accent masked her dialogue, but she provides some very welcome humour. Although this was welcome, it did confuse me. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be laughing or not as the majority of this play is very tense and It didn’t really feel like a comedy thriller. The final character is Porter Milgrim, who is the solicitor and friend of Sidney Bruhl. Played by Julien Ball, the solicitor is not on stage very much, but he is vital to the unfolding of the story. I really like him and Julien plays his part very well.


With just one beautiful set, the interior of Sidney and Myras home, there is no time lost in changing sets. Instead, a very large screen that drops down from time to time and it shows short clips of some very famous murder mysteries that are mentioned in the play, such as Dial M For Murder and Gaslight.

The audio for Deathtrap was very well done with gentle background music building up to a crescendo in some scenes. The music and sound effects definitely added a thrilling dimension to the tension from the the start. Ben and Max Ringham are responsible for the music and sound design and they captured the mood perfectly. Be warned, there are a good few jump scares in this performance and the music and sound does make them even jumpier and scarier!

Deathtrap is scary and not for the faint of heart. Check out Deathtrap at the New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 11th November:

Julie was invited to Deathtrap on behalf of #BrumHour by New Alexandra Theatre. She is considering having a lid on her drinks in future. This isn’t a sponsored post.