A villain? No, Paul Bradley (Holby City and EastEnders) prefers to say that Sidney Bruhl is just “complicated… very complicated.”
Paul plays the part in the UK tour of Ira Levin’s classic thriller Deathtrap which plays Brighton Theatre Royal from September 12-16 (tickets 0844 871 7650).
Written by the author of Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives and Critics Choice, Deathtrap remains the longest-running thriller in Broadway history, an ingenious maze of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end.
Sidney Bruhl (Paul), a once-successful writer of stage thrillers, is in the grip of chronic writer’s block. Out of the blue, young playwright Clifford Anderson sends Bruhl one of the only two copies of his brilliant new whodunit, Deathtrap.
Desperate to set Broadway alight once more, Sidney spies his chance to invite Clifford to his remote country home. Oh, and to bring the only other copy of Deathtrap with him…
“I have got to be careful not to give too much away, but you can say that Bruhl is very ambitious,” Paul says. “I think he is most alive when he is plotting… and he does a lot of plotting! Ira Levin is a fantastic writer. Before I start rehearsing, I don’t usually read the stage directions because they are usually put on by somebody else, but Ira Levin did his own stage directions, and it is beautifully written.”
The play was subsequently made into a film starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. But Paul rates the play higher: “I think the film has got a few cheaty bits and also the acting feels quite dated, very much the old school, whereas we try to be more psychologically true to it. It still has the different levels, what the characters want, what the characters are feeling. But it’s a great part. It’s the longest part I have ever played, probably longer than Hamlet, not that I have ever played Hamlet, but I wouldn’t be surprised. He is always saying what he is going to do and covering up what he is going to do. He is a liar, and that’s great fun to play.”
Paul played Professor Elliot Hope for ten years in Holby City and Nigel Bates in EastEnders for six. He’s always been keen to mix up the television work with stage work: “When I left EastEnders, I did two plays in the West End. I did Journey’s End and also Noises Off which toured and then went into the West End.” Last year, he played Geoffrey Howe in the play Dead Sheep – “a chance to get rid of Margaret Thatcher every night!”, he says.
And also a chance to savour the pleasures of theatre.
“If you are in a long-running drama on television, it is very quick. You have got to make quick decisions. With the theatre, you go into a different mode. It is a bit of a luxury to have the script for a couple of months so that you can really hunker down with the story.”
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