Deceit and mind games are the slick vehicles that drive the mystery of SLEUTH, running now through March 8, 2020 at the Hanna Theatre in Playhouse Square. Directed by Charles Fee, this Great Lakes Theater production has enough mayhem to keep audience members guessing and gasping until the very end.
Milo Tindle (Jeffrey C. Hawkins) doesn’t quite know what he’s in store for as he enters the home of Andrew Wyke (David Anthony Smith), a mystery writer who also happens to be the husband of Milo’s girlfriend Marguerite. Yes – her husband! “I understand you want to marry my wife,” says Andrew. Awkward? Definitely.
The Tony-winning play by Anthony Shaffer is a game of cat-and-mouse between two men, but it’s unclear at times exactly who is the cat, and who is the mouse. As Andrew proposes a “game” of sorts, Milo is uncertain about playing along. It involves a “scummy” plot, a clown, and so much witty banter that the dialogue becomes like a great sporting event between these two calculating men. It also includes an ever-present Jolly Jack, a creepy life-sized laughing sailor who sits ominously on the set, awaiting his maniacal turn to chime in.
The main actors are incredible to watch, as they circle each other with words and psychological tricks. Smith presents the older and accomplished husband, brimming with pomp and self-admiration. He is slick, thoughtful, wealthy, and has a presence that is slightly larger than life. Hawkins plays the younger travel agent who is vibrant and in love, but not as well-off. He is at a disadvantage walking into the lion’s lair, but soon proves to be a worthy adversary. The two argue about Marguerite’s expensive tastes, and take turns stabbing at one another with heavy words.
There is plenty of comedy in this classic thriller, as the script provides 2 hours of humorous and lively prowling by these ever-plotting characters. Deception is absolutely amusing in this smart country-house thriller.
The setting is intricate and welcoming, as the design team creates a rich home interior with lush wooden finishings, a smoking fireplace, several levels of playing space, and an atmosphere of anticipation. Charles Fee (Producing Artistic Director/SLEUTH Director) has a talented team, which includes Esther M. Haberlen (Costume Designer), Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer), Josh Schmidt (Sound Designer), and Gage Williams (Scenic Designer).
With clever direction, intelligent writing, crafty acting, and a looming environment, SLEUTH is sure to surprise and thrill audiences to the very end of the game. No spoilers here – you have to see the masters at work for yourself.
Tickets and information for SLEUTH are available by visiting greatlakestheater.org or by calling 216-241-6000. Prices are $15 – $89 / Students: $13, and the show runs through March 8, 2020 at the Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square.
Run Time: 2 hours (including a 15 minute intermission)