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Todd Boyce as Andrew Wyke and Neil McDermott as Milo Tindle. Picture: Jack Merriman


Malvern Theatres


Anthony Shaffer’s play Sleuth, billed as the ‘World’s Greatest Thriller’, is hugely dramatic and highly entertaining.

Andrew Wyke, a writer of detective fiction, invites Milo Tindle to his country mansion for a negotiation. Milo has become Marguerite Wyke’s lover and wants Andrew to divorce her so that he can in turn marry her. This emotional tangle is the basis for the plot.

It appears Andrew is willing to part with his wife, whom he appears to despise, but he wants to strike a bargain. He wants Milo, who is strapped for cash, to burgle his house and steal the jewellery from his safe, so that he, Andrew Wyke, can in turn claim the insurance monies and thereby meet both their financial requirements.

‘All good money-making schemes are criminal’ he asserts.

This introduces some elaborate games and clever pretences in which both parties are out to scare, outsmart and humiliate the other. Dressing up, clown outfits, guns . . . all form part of the attempts by each of the rivals to outscore the other. Cynical, witty dialogue abounds – particularly from the somewhat patronising and snobbish Wyke. ‘Sex is the game, marriage is the penalty’, he states.

To describe the action or the plot further would spoil the suspense and the drama of this very clever and witty play. As the curtain rises we are faced with a wonderful set, designed by Julie Godfrey – the opulent and stylish interior of a country mansion.

The performances by the two leading actors, Todd Boyce of Coronation Street fame and Neil McDermott of Eastenders, are very strong and dramatic. They sometimes delivered the script at great speed and this meant we sometimes missed some of the lines. Todd Boyce was particularly strong in Act One, Neil McDermott in Act Two.

The furniture, the props and some of the special effects added to the humour and the dramatic impact of the play. Director Rachel Kavanaugh brings together a highly entertaining and pacy production that keeps us all on tenterhooks throughout. A great evening’s entertainment!

Timothy Crow


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