Johnny McKnight: 'Theatre's at its very best when its unapologetically entertaining'


Prolific theatremaker brings Ira Levin's Deathtrap to Dundee Rep

As if Johnny McKnight hasn't been working hard enough already – his pantomimes at the Tron and Macrobert have been praised for their ability to maintain panto's innocent tradition while pushing the pop-cultural envelope – his direction of Ira Levin's Deathtrap for Dundee Rep reveals more of his genre-savvy sensibility.

'The piece plays with the idea of what sort of mind would write a thriller and, indeed, are they a thrill seeker just like the devious minds of the characters that live within the play,' he says. 'I'm drawing reference on all of that genre – the work of Hitchcock, film noir and, indeed, those thrillers that are referenced throughout the piece.

'Normally, I work with my own new writing (and comedy),' he continues. 'This piece is different. It's American in flavour, heightened and operatic at times, there's a sense of melodrama that runs through it. That's quite a departure from my normal Scottish-based work.'

Following the adventures of a failing writer – and how far he will go to recover the limelight – McKnight recognises how Deathtrap's combination of excitement, humour and genre-bending offers the perfect night out. 'I want to make sure we capture the laughs and thrills and jeopardy that I felt for the characters when I first read it,' he concludes. 'Theatre's at its very best when its unapologetically entertaining, when it absolutely grabs its audience and doesn't let it go.'

Dundee Rep, Dundee, Tue 20 Feb–Sat 10 Mar

Post a comment