What makes this play superb is captured right in the title: "Deathtrap: A Thriller in Two Acts." This is because the thrill of the first act is replaced by a twistedly different thrill in the second act. In Westport, Connecticut, we find playwright Sidney Bruhl and his loving wife Myra. Unfortunately, the well has run dry for Sidney who desperately needs a hit play and come not come up with anything. But then Sidney shows Myra "Deathtrap." It is, he explains, "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." With that blatant self-description author Ira Levin gives us the first of many nudge-nudge, wink-winks. You see, the only problem with "Deathtrap" is that Sidney did not write the play. It was written by Clifford Anderson, one of the "twerps" from Sidney's playwriting seminar. But maybe Sidney can find a way of making the play his own, even if it is over young Mr. Anderson's dead body.
Of course, Levin has already told us what is going to happen in the play, but as to who will be the victim of the first act's juicy murder, well, that is just the beginning of the fun. After all, there are still two other characters to be met and one of them is a Dutch psychic. "Deathtrap" is a roller-coaster ride that alternately amuses and terrifies, which is exactly what you want from a thriller. Best of all, you never catch up to the twists and turns. If there is a lesson to be learned here, then it is simply that nothing is more dangerous than a good idea.