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Deathtrap: A Thriller in Two Acts

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,626 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Seemingly 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 thr ...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published July 12th 1979 by Random House (first published January 1st 1978)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,441)
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Carol
May 31, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ha! What a set-up! If you like plays and want to read an ingenious and suspenseful multi-layered murder-mystery play about a murder-mystery play (x 3 or was it 4 ?) with just a touch of humor, you'll find it here in DEATHTRAP.

SLICK!

Candi
Sep 20, 2015 Candi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime, plays
This was an entertaining play with a good amount of suspense! I was completely ignorant of this play previously, so the various twists and turns were quite surprising. I enjoyed the bit of humor sprinkled throughout as well. A play-within-a-play, Deathtrap kept me guessing which parts were “real”, which characters were actually the good guys and which were the bad. The psychic next door was a nice addition to the plot and added a bit of interest as well. I wasn’t thrilled with the last scene and ...more
Mimi
Sep 10, 2015 Mimi rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, mystery, thriller
A whole lot of fun, an equal amount of creepy, and a pinch of wtf is going on here.

I've never enjoyed reading a play, after having already seen it, as much as I enjoyed this one, and that's saying something because I don't usually read plays.

But this one is highly recommended for people who like metafiction and mind games as this is a story within a story pretending to be an imitation of a play for the purpose of carrying out the perfect murder. You'll never guess who dies, who really dies, who'
...more
Heather
Jan 17, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-work
Kind of brilliant! Tongue-in-cheek murder mystery - actually, it's funny. Justin and I were watching American Horror Story several weeks ago, and they showed a murderer's lair for the first time on the show. I said, "Hey, it looks just like the set of that murder movie..." and then couldn't think of the name of the movie at all. Or any more details about it, except I was pretty sure it had Michael Caine. Then this morning my colleague walks into my office with the script of "Deathtrap," which is ...more
Marty Clarke
Jun 05, 2013 Marty Clarke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I give Deathtrap a solid A. Read it. Read it and tell me it isn't the most tightly wound thriller. Not a word wasted. Also, Ira has a great sense of humor and likes to fake the audience into a feeling that everything's going to be OK, but of course, he's just setting us up.
Cody
May 27, 2010 Cody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, glbt
I love this generic cover supplied by Dramatist Play Service for all their plays. Or, is there some play I don't know about called Acting Edition.

It's easy to see why Deathtrap is the longest running thriller in Broadway history. It's a masterwork!
Philip Fields
Dec 10, 2007 Philip Fields rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERY1
This is the best play in the world so many reversals. some gay peeps. yadayada LOL! amazing so many reversals!!!!
SO GOOD
deserves more than 5 stars
Steven
Comedy thriller about a play within a play within a play within a play.
Liza
Nov 29, 2007 Liza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't mind gore and like suprises
Shelves: thrillers
this thriller is VERY suprising and amazing!!!! read it!!!!!!!
Kate
Dec 13, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Great play with amazing twist!
Irene McHugh
Dec 23, 2015 Irene McHugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery, plays
If you’re a fan of the classic Dial M for Murder or the remake A Perfect Murder, then this nail-biter may be just the thriller for you.

Five characters.

Two acts.

Murder.

Twists.

And some humor.

The plot features a play within a play. Veteran play write Sidney Bruhl receives a draft of a play from his former student Clifford Anderson. The play is the perfect thriller. When Bruhl’s wife asks how good the play is, he responds, “It can’t miss. A gifted director couldn’t even hurt it.”

While there are oth
...more
Jeremy Hurd-McKenney
As a play, this has all the makings of a late 70's-early 80's era hit, with its elaborate blocking and witty dialogue. Overall, I think it's quite entertaining as a piece, and would imagine that it would be quite a spectacle to see performed live. However, the more I read of Ira Levin, two points of extreme irritation continuously come up that hamper my enjoyment of his work.

The first is his obvious hatred of women--they are always portrayed as buffoons, shrews, helplessly stupid, or some combi
...more
Trisha
Nov 05, 2014 Trisha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved reading Deathtrap . It was funny, suspenseful, and full of twists. The characters were interesting and the dialogue was just perfect. I've never watched the play, but the script was written well enough that I could see the story play out in my head while I was reading. If you like thrillers and humor, I'd recommend Deathtrap . If you don't like thrillers and humor, I'd recommend Deathtrap anyways. That's just how good it was.
J.M.
Jul 17, 2015 J.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, drama, borrowed
A quick, tricky thriller. You might foresee the first plot twist coming but probably not the ones that follow. It's a plot composed solely of twists. Not to mention the play-within-a-play aspect, and requisite comic relief. It manages to maintain a rich aura of suspense and impending doom not at all unlike his novel Rosemary's Baby. And though I've not seen the movie adapted from this, I couldn't help seeing Michael Caine and Christopher Reeves as the two playwrights. I won't give any more away ...more
Zoia Olubas
Apr 01, 2016 Zoia Olubas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A murder mystery about a murder mystery involving characters who write and even predict murder mysteries. All in two acts, 5 characters, one set, and presented to us in a nice little book. What more could you want?
Neil Schleifer
Aug 17, 2010 Neil Schleifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
A finely written mystery-thriller play, with lots of neat twists. I place this in the top four of the genre -- SLEUTH being #1; with DEATHTRAP, WAIT UNTIL DARK and DIAL M FOR MURDER battling it out for #2.

A mystery author with writer's block decides to see if he can get away with murder in real life. Add to the mix a psychic who lives next door who seems to know what is about to happen before it happens, and there's just enough comedy to keep the suspense in balance. A good read -- and if you ha
...more
Brendan
Oct 03, 2014 Brendan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this. The comedy, the suspense, the surprise. It was great. Even the final scene.
Valerie
Feb 09, 2016 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this play for my scenic design class. Delightfully plot twisty.
Jack
Mar 17, 2016 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I am a big Levin fan and got the opportunity to see this play at my local theater. I'd had the script on my bookshelf for a couple of years but hadn't gotten around to reading it. I finally picked it up to see what changes had been made for the performance. Not many. They stayed pretty true to Levin's darkly funny, very meta script. It's a lot of fun and I highly recommend it for fans of either the theatre or the thrillers of Ira Levin.
Kaethe
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: format-script
There's a reason why this ran forever. It's a scream in both the amusing and the scary senses.
Jaime Contreras
Ira Levin can create a whole world with his words. In this comedy-thriller, he does that so well that one can interact with the characters. The main characters of Sidney, Myra and Clifford are three of the five characters in the play. They live and breathe this wonderful play. Read this and then see it if it is ever performed in your neighborhood.
Craig
Sep 12, 2013 Craig rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
I'm sure the ending is meant to be funny, but it came across as stupid (is my response generational/ not-of-the-time-in-which-the-play-was-written?). I think the racial pantomime of the European psychic is annoying as well, an anachronism of racist days gone by. The rest of the play, however, is very good.
William
Aug 06, 2007 William rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This play has potential, but I have seen it twice and never have enjoyed it. I have not watched the movie, but I think it would require a stunning cast and superb acting and stunts in order to be successful. Otherwise, it's not my style.
Brian Sammons
May 29, 2012 Brian Sammons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like twisty-turny (turny is not a real word, I know, but i like it) murder mysteries then you'll love this. And I'm not usually one to read plays. It was also made into a pretty fun film.
Nick
Aug 27, 2014 Nick rated it liked it
Recommended to Nick by: Film Crit Hulk
I'm not quite sure what I just read, but it was at least entertaining. I'll bet if I were a drama student I'd appreciate this more.
Jeff
Oct 14, 2013 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I have always found the end a bit silly, I always enjoy revisiting what has to be one of the top five stage thrillers of all time.
Erin
Mar 29, 2013 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Ira Levin, and especially his plays. A little over the top, but I think it would be really fun to see staged.
Jennifer Hughes
Sep 13, 2013 Jennifer Hughes rated it really liked it
A very tight, well-crafted, clever play. Love the play-within-a-play concept. Really brilliant. Fun to read!
Lindsay Wilson
Dec 21, 2012 Lindsay Wilson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Does a good job with the play-within-a-play concept, and manages to be surprisingly funny for a thriller.
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Levin graduated from the Horace Mann School and New York University, where he majored in philosophy and English.

After college, he wrote training films and scripts for television.

Levin's first produced play was No Time for Sergeants (adapted from Mac Hyman's novel), a comedy about a hillbilly drafted into the United States Air Force that launched the career of Andy Griffith. The play was turned int
...more
More about Ira Levin...

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