During the 2010s I saw a 2-act play in Birmingham's Alexandra, with a three-character plot along these lines:

  • Two people in a house try to kill a third, and think they've succeeded. They wrap him up in a rug and bury him in the garden, which they access via a glass door.
  • A few minutes later, the victim emerges alive; the first the audience knows about it is when he suddenly returns to the house and attacks one of the attempted murderers. One of them dies; if memory serves, (i) it was the original would-be murderer and (ii) this ends act 1.
  • The two surviving characters discuss how commercially successful would be a story mimicking the details of what just happened, but they ultimately disagree on whether this would be so obvious they'd get convicted of the real killing. At the end of the play, the one too afraid to proceed with publication kills the other, so it won't result in his own conviction.
  • Both times a murder successfully occurs, there is sudden loud music together with strobe lighting. Although these details (which I think may also apply to some other scenes, including the first killing attempt) may be production-dependent, they seem so appropriate I suspect they're standard.

Which play this is? Although I don't remember its title, I feel like it was in the dialogue and/or contained at least one word such as death, kill or murder.


1 Answer 1


This sounds very much like Deathtrap, a play in two acts written by Ira Levin in 1978.

A playwright suffering from writer's block, Sidney, invites a younger colleague, Clifford, to his house apparently with the aim of stealing the younger man's new play and passing it off as his own. He strangles him and buries him in the garden. However, when Sidney and his wife are preparing for bed, Clifford appears covered in mud and attacks him. Witnessing this, Sidney's wife Myra dies of a heart attack. In fact this was the point of the scheme, Clifford and Sidney had set this up as a means to kill Myra. This concludes the first act.

In the second act, Sidney discovers that Clifford is writing a play based on their plot to kill Myra. He's horrified, as this could give him away to the police. The two quarrel and kill each other. Sidney's attorney and a psychic (who was also involved in the plot) realize that the events that have happened would make the perfect plot for a play.

As wikipedia notes:

Following a Boston tryout at the Wilbur Theatre, Deathtrap enjoyed a four-year run on Broadway...

The play also ran in London's Garrick Theatre from 1978 to 1981. In 1982, Deathtrap was adapted into a film of the same name... A revival, directed by Matthew Warchus, opened August 21, 2010, at London's Noël Coward Theatre starring Simon Russell Beale as Sidney, Claire Skinner as Myra, Jonathan Groff as Clifford, Estelle Parsons as Helga and Terry Beaver as Porter

Possibly the OP saw this 2010 revival.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.