Sleuth – Richmond Theatre | Review

It’s quite nice having practically everything explained to you in this intense and intriguing play. Andrew Wyke (Todd Boyce, apparently known for being in the cast of ITV’s Coronation Street) has invited Milo Tindle (Neil McDermott, apparently known for being in the cast of the BBC’s EastEnders – apparently being the operative word for me, who hasn’t watched a soap opera for some years) over to his house. Wyke, a renowned murder mystery author, is a highly perceptive and intelligent man with plenty of ideas – and he knows what works and doesn’t work in a good story.

Sleuth at Richmond Theatre. Photo credit: Jack Merriman.
Sleuth at Richmond Theatre. Photo credit: Jack Merriman.

It took me a little while to get used to Wyke’s style and manner of speaking, and he spoke at length with rapidity, something which might have been more challenging for audiences in venues renowned for having a bit of a stage echo – but at Richmond Theatre, it worked well. His was a complicated character, confident and assertive to the point of being manipulative towards Tindle, who is straightforward enough to admit, almost immediately, an assertion made by Wyke about Tindle’s personal life that also implicates Wyke.

There’s war on different levels between the two: the older Wyke is sometimes fanciful, the younger Tindle accepting a proposal from Wyke, which ostensibly will help get Tindle what he wants (too much of a spoiler, alas, to state precisely what it is that he wants). Wyke lives in a nice, well-maintained house, and as the whole play is set there, we don’t get to see what Tindle’s house looks like, but a class divide is made evident through the dialogue.

The set space, across two floors, is used brilliantly, with the staircase proving pivotal just before the interval. In setting up a scene (and then another one, and then another one, and so on) Wyke is highly descriptive, his brain working overtime to put together a convincing story, and as he does so, the lines between what is reality and what is Wyke’s imagination become increasingly blurry. ‘Detective facts’, he muses, is markedly different from ‘detective fiction’, implying that readers of detective novels and audiences of detective plays are shrewd enough to tell the difference.

The original Broadway production won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1971, and there have been two films of the same name, one released in 1972 and the other in 2007. It is of its time – there are certain lines in the dialogue that wouldn’t have been said if the play had been written in this day and age. I hadn’t encountered the play before, but its enduring popularity is evident in this engaging and entertaining production with a narrative that is simultaneously sophisticated and straightforward.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Todd Boyce and Neil McDermott star in Anthony Shaffer’s Tony Award-winning masterpiece. A young man arrives at the impressive home of a famous mystery writer, only to be unwittingly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and gamesmanship, where nothing is quite as it seems…

Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh
Designer: Julie Godfrey
Lighting Designer: Tim Oliver
Sound Designer: Andy Graham
Fight Director: Bret Yount
Costume Supervisor: Trish Wilkinson
Props Supervisor: Kate Forrester
Hair and Make-Up: Darren Ware

Richmond Theatre
Monday 13 to Saturday 18 May 2024
Book Tickets for Richmond Theatre

1 thought on “Sleuth – Richmond Theatre | Review”

  1. Sleuth seen today a great disappointment as actors (TV?) did not project their words to the audience well enough to follow the conversations onstage. Not just my opinion but also of others in my coach party in the stalls.

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