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Mark Shilstone-Laurent, left, and Deena Welch in Magic Circle TheatreÕs production of ÒDeathtrap,Ó opening Friday at the Magic Circle Theatre in Carmel Valley.

What happens when one of theater's most prolific playwrights "comes up dry" and is forced to endure the possibility that he may never write another successful play?

Sidney Bruhl, an award-winning author, has not had a hit in many years. To make ends meet he is forced to teach seminars to aspiring writers.

When a student presents him with the best script Sidney has read in a long time, the wheels in Sidney's head start turning.

What if Sidney just submitted the manuscript under his own name? His reputation would be restored. His financial dilemmas solved.

The question is how can he steal the script from first-time author Clifford Anderson. What follows in Magic Circle Theatre's production of Ira Levin's "Deathtrap" is a series of diabolical twists and turns that will leave audiences both gasping and laughing.

"One of the things I liked best about this play," said director Jack Stauffer, "is that every twist and turn is completely unanticipated and great fun for the audience. It has comedy, drama, shocks and plot twists galore.

"However," Stauffer said, "If you like it and tell your friends, don't give anything away. You will spoil the fun for those who haven't seen it."

Levin's "Deathtrap" premiered in 1978 and holds the record for the longest-running comedy-thriller on Broadway (with 1,800 performances) and was nominated for a Tony Award in the Best Play category.


Levin also received his second Edgar Award for "Deathtrap."

The play is in two acts with one set and five characters and was adapted into a film in 1982 starring Christopher Reeve, Michael Caine and Dyan Cannon.

It received a rave review from New York Times theater critic Walter Kerr, who wrote that it contained "effrontery everywhere and fun straight through."

The preface to the published script describes it as "something so evil that it infects all who touch it. The thing has a life of its own."

In "Deathtrap," Levin has taken the basic components of thrillers and horror stories; murder, deceit, innocent dialogue with hidden sinister meanings, plot reversals, unexpected turns of events, etc., and twisted and rearranged the pieces again and again.

Cue magazine called it "Two-thirds a thriller and one-third a devilishly clever comedy ... suspend your disbelief and be delighted."

The Hollywood Reported reviewed it as: "The intricately fashioned plot contortions brought gasps, the comedy lines drew delighted chortle."

The cast features Mark Shilstone-Laurent, Sam Fife, Deena Welch, Laura Cote and Philip Pearce.GO!

·What: Magic Circle Theatre's "Deathtrap"
·Where: Magic Circle Theatre, 8 El Caminito, Carmel Valley
·When: Opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9; continues Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Dec.9
·Tickets: $22 general; seniors and students $20 Sundays only, available at or 659-7500
·Information: or 659-7500