Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sleuth by Anthony Shaffer

by Anthony Shaffer [822 Sha] 

One of the best mystery/thriller plays ever written, Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth came out in 1970, and won the Tony Award for Best Play, as well as numerous other theatrical awards and nominations. Although there is a cast of five, Sleuth is primarily a two-man show, with a few supporting characters thrown in near the very end. Set at the Wiltshire manor house of bestselling British mystery author Andrew Wyke, the play features Wyke having invited a young upstart, Milo Trindle, to his home. Wyke is obsessed with games, game-playing and quirky inventions. Wyke’s also upset with Trindle, who he’s discovered is having an affair with Wyke’s wife (never seen in the play). In a series of sharp, snappy give-and-take conversations, Andrew and Milo dance around their differences and similarities, and Andrew ultimately suggests an elaborate scheme, in while Milo will “break into” Andrew’s home to steal his wife’s jewelry, giving Andrew an opportunity to make a profit in insurance claims while also getting rid of his unfaithful wife.

But not everything is as it seems, and Andrew’s efforts to entice Milo to larceny may not be quite as simple as they seem.

Sleuth has been performed hundreds of times in the U.K. and U.S. and is a powerful example of the “two-man” play, with both Andrew and Milo being full, vibrant characters for actors to bite into. The play has also been adapted into two successful films. The first, in 1972, featured Laurence Olivier as Andrew and Michael Caine as Milo. The second, in 2007, also featured Michael Caine, this time as the senior character Andrew, and Jude Law as Milo. Both are very much worth your time if you can find them. But, I still recommend reading this in playscript format and/or seeing a staged version if at all possible. I’d love to see it produced locally!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Deathtrap, by Ira Levin.] [ Wikipedia page for Sleuth ] | [ Wikipedia page for Anthony Shaffer ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

 Have you read this? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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