Tuesday, 29 December 2009
I once referred to this as American Psycho but not. Now you could be fooled in to thinking I was merely covering my bases but hear me out.
Sidney is an accomplished playwright. Well, he used to be. Living off the royalties of his past successes, everything he writes now is a flop. He is sent a brilliant first draft of a play called Deathtrap by a young unknown writer, and we begin with Sidney and his wife Myra half heartedly discussing the option of murdering the writer and taking the play for himself. So half heartedly in fact, that when the writer, Clifford, arrives at their house to work on Deathtrap, we can only assume the worst and Clifford's fate is quite eerily sealed within minutes. Much to the distress of Myra who must now help her husband move and bury the body in the back garden.
But of course things are not as they seem and soon enough we find Clifford is not dead. He storms back in to the house to seek revenge, killing Sidney in the process. Or does he? There are so many twists and turns right up to the end you soon resign yourself to not trying to work it out.
Being a play in some ways makes this story more shocking than if it were in novel format. The stage directions read so matter of fact it almost normalises the character's actions. They're not covered up in pretty , arty language. They're in your face.
"MYRA. My heart won't take it!
SIDNEY. (He crouches again and unwinds the garrotte from CLIFFORD's throat, then turns the ends of the hearth-rug over CLIFFORD's body. Rising he wipes the garrotte with the handkerchief, and meets MYRA's wondering stare.) Your heart seems to have taken it."
If you like a story where you think you know what you're getting, then you get it with a vaguely sickening twist, much like Ira Levin's other works, A Kiss Before Dying or The Stepford Wives, then take a look at Deathtrap but do try not to fall in.