SLEUTH: Anthony Shaffer.
Nottingham Playhouse to 24 September.
Runs: 1h 45m: one interval: till 24th September.
Performance times: 7.45pm (matinees Thurs 1.30pm and Sats 2.30pm),
Review: Alan Geary: 13th September, 2016.
Celebrated thriller with some outstanding acting.
Old-school crime writer, Andrew Wyke, whose anachronistic best-sellers hark back to the Golden Age of detective fiction, is visited at home by his wife’s lover, Milo Tindle. He’s been invited – Wyke has a lucrative criminal proposition to make to the relatively hard-up Tindle.
Sleuth is Anthony Shaffer’s most celebrated work, and rightly so. Its wickedly clever plot keeps you guessing; at the same time it’s a penetrating critique of and satire on the Agatha Christie approach to crime-writing. Disconcertingly, it’s also a powerful blast at those of us who still enjoy the classic detective whodunit.
As well as some outstanding acting, this production, directed by Giles Croft, treats us to a hugely entertaining Wiltshire manor house set, some of which revolves, and to which all sorts of unexpected things happen. Some back projection adds to the fun.
James Alexandrou’s Tindle is invested with just the right amount of seediness. Son of an Italian-Jew, he’s an ex-second-rate public school man brought up to be an English gentleman. Cliff Williams’s Inspector Doppler – not a common name in Wiltshire – with raincoat, bucolic accent, and a mobility problem, is a super stage sleuth. But given the difficulty he has struggling up the stairs you wonder why he hasn’t been chucked off the force years ago.
Performance of the evening comes from Miles Richardson , as Wyke. Smug, smooth, reactionary, snobbish, anti-Semitic, sexist and amoral; the character is always entirely watchable, his cynical observations often uncomfortably accurate. The way Richardson gets Wyke to play-act his way through a multitude of detective fiction’s stock caricatures is a treat to watch. So too his reactions when Wyke, a master of deadly gamesmanship, seems to be losing out to Tindle. Richardson can make Wyke pathetic.
And there’s that growing sense of menace, intensified when Tindle dons a clown’s costume, always disturbing at the best of times.
This production of Sleuth entertains at lots of levels.
Andrew Wyke: Miles Richardson.
Milo Tindle: James Alexandrou.
Inspector Doppler: Cliff Williams.
Detective Sergeant Tarrant: Oli Smith.
Police Constable Higgs: Ed Boot.
Director: Giles Croft.
Designer: Barney George.
Lighting Designer: Alexandra Stafford.
Composer/Musical Director: Jonathan Girling.
Sound Designer: Martin Curtis.
Fight Director: Philip D’Orléans.