Sleuth was famously made into a film starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. If you’ve seen that (or the recent remake, with Michael Caine swapping roles from the older to younger man), you’ll need to suspend disbelief when you see the stage version, for this is a play that relies on trickery and surprise.
Andrew Wyke (Simon MacCorkindale), a famous writer of detective fiction (of the tweed jackets, pipes and plodding country policemen variety, rather than fast cars and drug raids), invites Milo Tindle (Michael Praed) to his country pile. Milo is having an affair with Andrew’s wife, and the older man proceeds to entangle the younger in a complicated and sinister game. The upper hand is passed back and forth throughout the evening, and you’ll certainly have more fun as an audience member if you are somewhat more believing than this reviewer.
Anthony Shaffer’s script is very funny, the banter shared between the two actors, and marvellously brought off on both sides. Milo’s shiny blue suit sits uncomfortably amongst the well-dusted antiques in Andrew’s mansion, yet when Andrew describes himself as an Olympic sexual athlete, Milo is quick to comment that it must be the sprints rather than distance events he now competes in.
Timing is all in a comedy or thriller, but here - in a blend of the two genres - it is not always perfect, and occasionally Praed appears to be laughing outside the script. Judging from the audience response though, many of them managed to immerse themselves more deeply than we did in the production, and at very least Sleuth boasts slick performances and makes for an entertaining evening - both on and off stage.
Sleuth continues at the Arts Theatre until Sat 24 May
Article by Rachel Fentem