Deathtraps : The Postmodern Comedy Thriller

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The phenomenal success of such plays as Ira Levin's "Deathtrap and Anthony", Shaffer's "Sleuth" heralded the advent of a new form of detective play - the comedy thriller. These plays overturned the conventions of detective fiction while keeping playgoers on the edges of their seats. Carlson shows the comedy thriller to be a singularly postmodern form. The detective story, with its emphasis on reason and logic, provided the perfect playground for the destabilizing effects of postmodern experimentation. The comedy thriller's self-referential openness was a refreshing contrast to the closed world of the classic detective play and injected a new ebullience and theatricality into a staid form. Carlson examines all the elements of the thriller - openings, settings, characters, plot lines, the role of the audience, and endings - and shows how they work to overturn the conventions of realism in detective drama. "Deathtraps" will prove a feast for all lovers of the comedy thriller.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 139.7 x 205.7 x 20.3mm | 272.16g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 0253208262
  • 9780253208262
  • 2,128,241

About Marvin A. Carlson

MARVIN CARLSON is Sidney E. Cohn Professor of Theatre and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Among his books on European theatre history and on theatrical theory are Theories of the Theatre, Places of Performance, and Theatre Semiotics: Signs of Life.
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Table of contents

I. The Business of Murder II. The Scene of the Crime III. Among Those Present IV. Murder by the Book V. Dead Wrong VI. Stage Struck VII. The Audience as/for Accomplice VIII. Pigs and Angels: The Postmodern Private Eye IX. Deathtraps NOTES A SELECTED CHRONOLOGY OF MYSTERY AND DETECTIVE DRAMAS AND OF COMEDY THRILLERS SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SECONDARY SOURCES INDEX
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