WHAT is, arguably, the stage’s greatest comedy thriller takes to the stage at Bolton Little Theatre on Monday in the form of Ira Levin’s hugely successful Deathtrap.

Levin, author of some the late 20th century’s best known stories, wrote Deathtrap in 1978 as a self-referential look at the comedy thriller genre prevalent in Broadway at the time.

Ever since Sleuth had held audiences in rapture, stage writers were desperately trying to out do each other to ‘wrong foot’ the audience whilst entertaining them ­— Deathtrap, is said to trump them all.

Levin had already enjoyed enormous success as a novelist with Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives and The Boys From Brazil, but had always seen the theatre as his first love.

Having had both successes and failures from earlier plays, he was determined to pursue the medium and so set the plot for Deathtrap to be about a previously successful playwright ‘Sidney Bruhl’ who has fallen into a dry period.

Out of the blue a young would-be writer who had attended one of Sidney’s seminars, sends him his first effort, which Sidney can see is a sure-fire hit.

What would he do for the chance to pass that play off as his own and enjoy that success again?

Knowing the pedigree that Deathtrap boasted, seasoned director Simon Mott was only too keen to take up the reins once again for the Company.

“I know all director’s say this, but it really has been a pleasure to work on such an inventive play with such a talented and hardworking team around me," he said.

Richard Leigh plays ‘Sidney Bruhl’ the experienced author with writer’s block.

"I don’t think I’ve enjoyed seeing the plot unfold as I’m rehearsing quite as much as I have for Deathtrap," he says, "it must be the cleverest and most inventive play I’ve ever been in or indeed seen.”

Nick Eccles who plays young would-be playwright ‘Clifford Anderson’ added: "We’ve all been so fascinated by the story, those members of the cast who aren’t in a scene can be found in the auditorium watching the rest of the play themselves, that’s how much we love it!”

The cast of five is completed by Lindsay Farnworth as Sidney’s wife ‘Myra’, Sue Mallett as Dutch psychic ‘Helga ten Dorp’ and Alan Carney as ‘Porter Milgrim’, Bruhl’s lawyer and friend.

Simon said:"Even the number in the cast is significant. The play that Clifford writes and sends to Sidney for his approval is described as a ‘two act, one set, five character money-maker’ ­— and that’s exactly what Deathtrap is. Even the ending is so incredibly clever I honestly doubt anyone could guess it."

So go along to Bolton Little Theatre and find out just what made Deathtrap so successful that it ran on Broadway for four years and in the West End for three.

Deathtrap runs at Bolton Little Theatre Hanover Street Bolton BL1 4TG from Monday,January 27 to Saturday February 1 at 7:30 pm. For tickets go to www.boltonlittletheatre.co.uk or ring 01204 524469