Sidney - "A thriller
in two acts
, one set
. Five characters
. A juicy murder
in Act One
, unexpected developments
in Act Two
. Sound construction
, good dialogue
, laughs in the right places. Highly commercial
Deathtrap - Feb. 26, 1978, by Ira Levin
Sidney Bruhl is a famous playwright who is known for his thrillers. The play starts with him suffering writer's block after a series of flops at Broadway. His supporting wife, Myra, tries to help him out of this depression, but an aspiring playwright, Clifford Anderson, sends a play, Deathtrap, to Sidney that is ... well, almost perfect. "A gifted director couldn't even hurt it."
Sidney along with his wife, who suffers from a weak heart, cook up a plot to invite young Clifford to visit them, murder him, and steal his play. Nosey psychic investigator Helga TenDorp moves in next door, however, and immediately picks up trouble. The story zigs and zags, hilarity ensues.
Deathtrap constantly refers to itself through Clifford's play, and it also talks about other plays, playwriting, and is just a huge in-joke from beginning to end. But it's so well written that everything works. There are only five characters, all the action takes place on one set, it's a very cheap play to produce. This play is a thriller, it practically defines the genre.
Deathtrap was also made into a movie in 1982, directed by Sidney Lumet, and starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. The movie version is pretty faithful to the play, but loses a little of the energy due to different expectations from a movie. However the performances by the leads are wonderful, and it's well worth seeing.