"Deathtrap" - by Ira Levin - Washington Street Players (Holliston, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Chris Erath as "Sidney Bruhl," and Billy Del Sesto as "Clifford" in a scene from "DEATHTRAP" by Ira Levin, now playing at the Washington Street Players in Holliston, MA. until April 27, 2024. Photo Courtesy Washington Street Players)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724   

“The idea I had in August has gone by way of the idea I had in June and the idea I had in whenever it was before then..."

                                - ("Sydney Bruhl") / Ira Levin

Washington Street Players

Presents Ira Levin's


Written by Ira Levin

Director Alessandra Horton

Produced by Karen Dinehart 

Cast Includes: Chris Erath as "Sidney Bruhl," Billy Del Sesto as "Clifford," Lorna Nogueira as "Myra," Laura Steele as "Helga," Bob Amici as "Porter."

Additional Creative Team:

Assistant to the Director - Brie Horton; Stage Manager - Analisa Bono; Set Designer/Set Dressing - Nancy Stevenson; Set Construction - Rich Greaves; Costume Design - Dawn Anderson; Props - Karen Dinehart; Props Assistants - Linda Schumacher, Steve Lillis; Lighting Design - Rich Greaves; Sound Design - Ed Council; Lighting/Sound Operators - David Elinoff, Katrina Lehberger; Backstage Crew - Linda Schumacher, James Parr; Hair/Make-up - Cast; Graphic Design - Krystyana Greaves; Program Design - Katrina Lehberger, Liana Vincini 


April 12, 2024 through April 27, 2024

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times) 

Holliston Town Hall, 703 Washington Street, Holliston MA 01746


For tickets and more information, visit www.washingtonstreetplayers.org/tickets



Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

Washington Street Players (WSP) presents a staunchly faithful adaptation of the suspenseful, clever and even occasionally humorous “DEATHTRAP,” a Tony Award-nominated "comedy thriller." 

The two-act play comes with numerous plot twists that hit you from the very beginning to the very end and the performances never falter. 

But do not seek out any character serving as a moral compass as the only one in the show that does will not be there by the end.

“DEATHTRAP” was written by Ira Levin in 1978. 

Holding the record for the longest-running comedy-thriller on Broadway, “DEATHTRAP” enjoyed a four-year run from 1978 to 1982, closing after 1,793 performances

The show also was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Play.

Non-theatregoers "of a certain age" may recall the 1982 film adaptation starring Michael Caine, Dyan Cannon and the late Christopher Reeve

Since leaving Broadway, “DEATHTRAP” has been staged countless times, becoming very much an "old reliable" for many theatre groups...and for good reason. 

Even though the material may feel dated to some, it is still an exceptional play.

This current staging by WSP is also reliably effective thanks to director, Alessandra Horton, who has done a commendable job bringing forth all of the finer points of the play onto the Holliston stage. 

Set in Westport, Connecticut, famed mystery thriller playwright Sidney Bruhl (Chris Erath) works in a study that is described, by Levin’s script, as a “handsomely converted stable grafted onto an authentically Colonial house.” 

Erath is exceptional as Sidney, a cavalier, smarmy, pompous windbag whose writer's block is driving him to desperate measures. 

And yet, it seems, that if Sidney had any kind of moral compass it never pointed true north.

In fact, with the exception of one, the remainder of the five characters we meet in “DEATHTRAP” have few redeeming qualities.

There's plenty of pathological if not sociopathic behavior to go around here.

If Sidney's character and dialogue was not so brilliantly written, though, much of the impact of this play would fall short, coming across as atrociously bland.

Also, there is an argument to be made that “DEATHTRAP” is actually a complete farce brilliantly disguised as a "thriller comedy."  

(Photo: Laura Steele as "Helga" with Lorna Nogueira as "Myra" in a scene from "DEATHTRAP" by Ira Levin, now playing at the Washington Street Players in Holliston, MA. until April 27, 2024. Photo Courtesy Washington Street Players)

Levin's play does not have mere suggestions for stage directions. They are quite specific and nothing on the stage is random. A perfect example is in the stage setting itself.

The impressive set design an dressing by Nancy Stevenson and set construction by Rich Greaves adheres to the Levin script perfectly, replete with a “fieldstone fireplace” which is used during critical moments in the show. 

The farmhouse feel has an actual farmer's wheel on the wall. 

A desk stage right has an ancient device on it called a "typewriter" next to a landline telephone circa one used in the dark ages...the 1970s.

Numerous weapons adorn the walls: 

A scythe, crossbow, mace, pistols, swords, short hatchets, long axes, sharp knives and more. 

All items one might expect to see on a night out at the theatre.

However, as we soon learn, many of these objects are not just there for decoration. 

Narcissist Sidney displays them as souvenirs of his more successful plays, along with many old "window cards" (not "posters") of productions of his plays. 

Yet, these items also serve as a reminder and further aggravate Sidney’s crippling case of writer’s block, which seems to have gone on much longer than, say, a decade. 

He sees an opportunity for breakthrough when gets a script from one of his students that could be a potential hit. 

Sidney ‘invites’ the young writer, Clifford Anderson (Billy Del Sesto), over to his place where they can “collaborate” on the needed “improvements” of the story’s “rough draft.” 

Del Sesto gives an admirable performance as "Clifford" opposite Erath's "Sidney" as the two writers slowly move from being collaborators to competitors, then later from allies to adversaries.

(Photo: Bob Amici as "Porter" chats with Chris Erath as "Sidney Bruhl" in a scene from the play "DEATHTRAP" by Ira Levin, now playing at the Washington Street Players in Holliston, MA. until April 27, 2024. Photo Courtesy Washington Street Players)

Foreshadowing aside, Clifford, an ardent admirer of Sidney, seemingly relishes the chance to work with Sidney. 

At the Bruhl home, Clifford meets Myra (Lorna Nogueira), Sidney’s charming wife and, through what feels like numerous carnival rides in the plot, where this show ends is a far cry from where it begins.

Nogueira is simply outstanding as the tragic, tormented wife of Sidney.  

Levin’s dialogue here is impeccably polished (so much so it almost absolves him for his abysmal musical, “Drat! The Cat!”). 

The writer wrote so many clever stories during his lifetime (before passing in 2007) from “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Stepford Wives” and “Veronica’s Room” and, arguably, “DEATHTRAP” stands solidly among his very best works.

Levin, himself twice divorced in his lifetime, seemed to have little regard as to the fate of many of his female characters and (spoiler alert), unfortunately, the same goes for Myra, as well.

We also are introduced to eccentric psychic Helga (Laura Steele), a nosey neighbor, and Porter (Bob Amici), Sydney’s attorney. 

(Photo: Chris Erath as "Sidney Bruhl," and Billy Del Sesto as "Clifford" in a scene from "DEATHTRAP" by Ira Levin, now playing at the Washington Street Players in Holliston, MA. until April 27, 2024. Photo Courtesy Washington Street Players)

Every time you let your guard down and assume no more plot twists are about to happen, more come along. 

While Amici gets most of the laughs as "Porter" in the show's second act, it is Steele who steals attention away from everyone else in the cast thanks to her over the top portrayal of the intrusive celebrity psychic neighbor, but this is where Levin’s brilliance is most evident. 

Because, and without dropping too many spoilers, through the performances of Erath and Del Sesto, particularly in the show’s superior second act, we see that Levin’s show recognizes itself for what it is. 

 Without having to resort to either breaking the fourth wall or becoming a faint, lampoon of itself, Levin creatively uses his own scripted stage descriptions and directions as much of the dialogue to parallel events taking place in his own story. 

As the show unfolds, and the plot thickens, there are many competitive maneuvers in the ongoing game of one-upmanship between Sidney and Clifford that help maintain an even keel of humor and surprise. 

As mentioned, not only clever, “DEATHTRAP” is also balanced and evenly paced in its humor, even during some of the show’s darker, more frenzied moments.

“DEATHTRAP” continues in Holliston until April 27th and much of the pleasure comes from Levin's superb writing which is ably presented by the solid WSP cast. 

For tickets and more information, visit www.washingtonstreetplayers.org/tickets


Approximately two hours, 30 minutes with one intermission 

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




Comfortably ensconced in his charming Connecticut home, Sidney Bruhl, a successful writer of Broadway thrillers, is struggling to overcome a dry spell which has resulted in a string of failures and a shortage of funds. 

A possible break in his fortunes occurs when he receives a script from a student in the seminar he has been conducting at a nearby college—a thriller that Sidney recognizes immediately as a potential Broadway smash. 

Sidney’s plan, devised with his wife’s help, is to offer collaboration to the student for co-credit. Or is it?

"DEATHTRAP" provides twists and turns of devilish cleverness, and offers hilariously sudden shocks in such abundance that audiences will be spellbound until the very last moment.


Holliston boasts a full-time, active community theater group –  WASHINGTON STREET PLAYERS. WSP is a not-for-profit Massachusetts corporation which has been active in the community since 1995. Each production brings new members and new friends together from Holliston as well as from neighboring communities. Everyone in WSP does everything…no one carries the exclusive designation of “actor” or “director” or “set designer”. If you look at our programs over the past years, you will see that we do what needs to be done. All positions are up for grabs with each show. We advertise for directors, designers and actors for each production, both on the Internet and in print. We think of ourselves as a true community theater….professional in our attitude and products, but in it for the fun of it!


Mailing Address: 

P.O. Box # 5962 

Holliston, MA 01746 

# 508-306-1442