Mayhem mixed with laughs will fill the bill when Citadel Theatre presents “Deathtrap,” the late Ira Levin’s 1978 hit.
Patrick Murphy will direct the show that went on the become the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway and, later, a popular film. The show runs Sept. 5-Oct. 5.
“It’s a cleverly written show — sort of a play within a play within a play,” says Murphy, who previously appeared at Citadel three years ago in “A Christmas Carol,” followed by “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Other Peoples’ Money.”
“As you get into it, there’s something unexpected happening at every turn. One moment there’s a burst of violence and the next come moments of humor,” he says.
Murphy singles out the script’s “unique craftsmanship” as it overlays one story atop another to the surprise — and delight — of audiences.
“Deathtrap,” set in the study of murder-mystery playwright Sidney (Chuck Quinn) and his wife Myra (Elizabeth Rude), unfolds in two acts, each with three scenes performed by a cast of five.
Sidney finds himself with writer’s block and desperately in need of a hit after his earlier successes have become overshadowed by a string of box-office flops.
Other characters include Clifford (Neil Phelps), a young intern who has written a promising play; Helga (Tehilla Newman), a psychic who predicts some of the twists and turns in the show; and Porter (Steve Malone), Sidney’s attorney.
Malone, who is also Citadel’s new general manager, says what starts as a collaboration turns into a possible murder, a possible double murder and then a triple murder. “You almost need a scorecard to keep track,” he adds. “The funny thing about the show is there’s no scene when all five characters are onstage at the same time. It’s all so tightly written.”
To reveal the plot’s particulars would require a spoiler alert. In fact, as part of the announcements, audiences will be sworn to secrecy not to reveal the ending.
“Each scene keeps you guessing about what happening and what’s coming up next,” Malone says. “This is not a show to come late to or one to leave early.”
Sept. 5-Oct. 5
Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest
$35 for Thursday night and Sunday matinee performances; $37.50 for Friday and Saturday