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Mortimer Dramatic Society

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St John's Hall, 22 West End Road, Mortimer Common, RG7 3TF.

Box Office

Mrs Peggy Hood, 8 Glenapp Grange, West End Road, Mortimer Common, RG7 3TF. 0118 933 2583.

Review of Deathtrap

17th to 18th October and 24th to 25th October 2014

Review from Newbury Theatre.

Ira Levin wrote Deathtrap in 1978. It’s a thriller with many twists and surprises, and Mortimer Dramatic Society’s production relocates it from Connecticut to Berkshire – this not only works well but also avoids having to master American accents.

It’s a play about a play, with established playwright Sydney suffering from writer’s block and getting short of money. Unknown new playwright Clifford sends Sydney a copy of his play Deathtrap, which Sydney sees as a work of genius. To the alarm of his wife Myra, Sydney hatches a plot which he hopes will solve his money problems…

Sydney (Darren Reed) is confident and urbane, and clearly a nasty piece of work. This was a strong performance in one of the two main roles. Ian Beavon was the nerdy Clifford – a performance marred on the opening night by stumbling over lines and needing prompts. He wasn’t the only one; it’s hugely distracting for the audience and slows the whole pace down.

Melanie Sherwood, as the nervy Myra, was a bit too nervy for my liking, with lots of hand-wringing. Mary Auckland was convincingly single-minded as the psychic Helga, providing some nice comic moments, and James Burton Stewart was suave and assured as Porter the solicitor.

It was a great set, with lots of weapons and posters on the wall, a big bookcase and an open fire, all well-furnished for the period, but oh dear, the desk! I can believe it’s difficult (and expensive) to find a convincing 'Victorian' desk, but in that case it’s better to cut Porter’s line "What a beauty!"

Director Tom Shorrock made good use of the space and had the characters well differentiated.

An intriguing play with some good acting, but marred by too many prompts.


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