Ira Levin Estate Blocks L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center Production of ‘Deathtrap’


The L.A. Times reports on the apparently homophobic veto of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center's production of Deathtrap, scheduled for September:

A Los Angeles revival of Ira Levin's “Deathtrap” has been canceled after the estate of the late author expressed objections to the use of nudity and some of the production's gay content. The engagement, which was supposed to have begun September at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, was to be a remounting of the staging that ran at the center in the spring.

Levin's estate revoked permission to stage the murder story, citing an instance of nudity that occurs near the end of first act in the center’s staging, according to Jon Imparato, a producer of the revival. In one scene of the production, the character of Clifford, a young, aspiring writer with shady motives, disrobes and reveals his backside to the audience. Imparato said the nudity lasts for approximately 30 seconds.

The Levin Estate is managed by the writer's three sons, Adam, Jared and Nicolas.


  1. Bryan Irrera says

    Considering the show is about a couple of murderous gays who (sorry, spoilers) bump off the wife of the one of them, this wasn’t exactly a pro-gay play to begin with…

  2. Kathleen says

    This is a show whose twist (spoiler) is that a wrjter and his male lover conspire to frighten the writer’s wife to death. WHY should this be a problem?

  3. Lymis says

    Spoiler boat having sailed – the Act 1 shocker ending is a kiss between the male leads – oh, my God, they’re gay! 20 years later, the shock value is seriously muted – I can see that the choice to have the young lover disrobe would ramp it back up to what was originally intended.

    Hard to see what the objection could be.

  4. Caliban says

    In the movie, made …when? 30 some years ago? Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine kissed, which makes it pretty clear theirs is a sexual/romantic relationship.

    But I guess that was OK because Hollywood pays so well, unlike small theater groups.

  5. Randy says

    Yet another reason why copyright should end with the author (if not sooner).

    Whose creativity are we rewarding by letting people who did NOT create the work control who gets to present it?

  6. says

    I saw and reviewed this production last April, and wrote in my review: “What is not period at all is the contemporary sensibility director Sawyer gives the current production, particularly in an eroticism that could only be hinted at on Broadway in 1978 and made a tad more explicit in the 1982 movie adaptation.”
    Even in Levin’s original script, the two characters’ relationship is obviously a same-sex, sexual relationship, and only someone with homophobic blinders on could fail to see that. There’s even this line in the script: “I want to finish out my days as ‘author of THE MURDER GAME,’ not ‘fag who knocked off his wife.'” All director Ken Sawyer did, and brilliantly, was to re-envision Deathtrap for a 21st Century audience by changing certain stage directions so as to show the two characters behaving in private in a way that couldn’t have been shown onstage in the 1970s. The movie added a same-sex kiss that wasn’t in the play. All Sawyer did was take that a step farther.

  7. jaragon says

    The gay twist must have been a real shocker in the 1970’s. I really don’t see how making the homosexual aspect more explicit would change the meaning of the play which is is after all a thriller about murderous “fags”?!

  8. jaragon says

    The play is not homophobic-Levin who was a master thriller writer ( just read “A Kiss Before Dying) knew how to come up with clever unexpected twists.

  9. gr8guyca says

    This makes no sense. Look at the clip from the movie. It’s overtly a gay relationship. They kiss and he tells a hot, shirtless Christopher Reeve to get into bed. Duh.

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