Simon Russell Beale and Jonathan Groff are superb in Matthew Warchus' near-perfect revival of Ira Levin's marvelous thriller.
The work -- which ran on Broadway for 1793 performances from 1978 to 1982 -- involves mystery-writing dramatist Sidney Bruhl (Russell Beale), who is drawing a mental blank for his next opus, but suspects he might be able to pull himself out of his dilemma when a student of his called Clifford Anderson (Groff) sends a promising commercial manuscript called Deathtrap.
The set-up, whereby Bruhl invites fresh-faced, evidently innocent Anderson to drop by with his only copy of that smash-potential play, immediately leads to a series of twists -- most unexpected, some signaled. In fact, all one can comfortably reveal about the convoluted plot is that Bruhl has a wife Myra (Skinner) with heart trouble, a cannily prescient Dutch psychic Helga ten Dorp (Parsons) living next door, a lawyer, Porter Milgrim (Beaver), who has his own powers of observations, and a household that is hung with a huge array of weapons.
Along with the chills and laughs Levin hands around like hors d'oeuvres with a biting after-taste, the frequent references to Bruhl's and Anderson's plays means there's a good deal of winking meta-theatrical talk about the challenges of writing workable mysteries. Levin's does hit the elusive mark, of course, especially given its gasper of a first-act closer.
On Rob Howell's shadowy deathtrap of a set, the troupe members go about their business with all the style an enterprise like this one requires. No matter what role just-this-side-of-corpulent Russell Beale is playing, he always slips into it as if into a tailor-made suit. Bruhl's tart comments slide off his tongue with ease, and the man's desperation comes from his center. Groff strikes Anderson's is-he-or-isn't-he-as-innocent-as-he-seems chord precisely right; Parsons displays her undiminished verve as the heavily-accented clairvoyant; Skinner's just-this-side-of-Lady-Macbeth wife is high-pitch-correct; and Beaver's lawyer is on the smart money.