Friday, April 1, 2011

Ride the "Death Trap"!!!!

OK, a few words about the Asolo Rep production of Death Trap. But first, a few words about the thriller genre ...

As a dramatic genre, thrillers have the staying power of, say, Jacobean revenge tragedy. Which is to say, the genre isn't dead, but it's been eaten by other genres. A contemporary play may have thriller elements, but we want more psychological depth. A contemporary movie may have thriller elements, but we want more stuff blowing up. There are very few pure thrillers anymore.

Which is another way of saying: Ira Lavin's Death Trap is of its time. Lavin was a brilliant novelist and screenwriter -- at his best, on a par with William Goldman. Lavin wrote "Rosemary's Baby," "The Boys from Brazil" and a few other things. He knew what he was doing.

So, on the subject of thrillers, Lavin saw the bloody handwriting on the wall. He knew the thriller genre was dying. "Death Trap" is as much an epitaph as a love letter as a parody. I could tell you the plot, but thrillers don't work if you know what happens. So let's put it this way.

Lavin made a great roller coaster ride, full of exciting twists and turns. It's a fun ride. For contemporary writers, that ride is pretty much closed -- except as a technical exercise. For contemporary audiences, the ride is still a hoot.

Death Trap
Through May 14
An Asolo Rep production
FSU Center for the Arts
5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

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