Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Sleuth, Poster of the Kanata Theatre production.

By Anthony Shaffer

Kanata Theatre

Directed by Beverley Brooks

Often called the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth was a smash hit when it premiered in London’s West End in 1970 and won a Tony and other awards on Broadway the following year. It was also made into a movie — in 1972, 2007 and 2014  — the most effective version the first of the three, which starred Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

It is a drama very much of its time — some 50 years ago — so the cat and mouse are dragging a bit these days as the games are played out and the attitudes and references underline just how dated Sleuth has become. The real conundrum is why Kanata Theatre would choose to stage this play in 2018.

 

Despite this, the Kanata Theatre production, directed by Beverley Brooks, manages to overcome the wordiness and some of the offensive tone (viewing women as possessions and foreigners as a negative force, for example). And Karl Wagner’s fine two-level country house sets the stage for the games to begin.

 

Sleuth opens with successful mystery writer and games addict, Andrew Wyke (Dale MacEachern) awaiting the arrival of his new neighbour, Milo Tindle (Jarrod Chambers), who also happens to be the lover/fiancé of Wyke’s estranged wife.

 

The encounter begins civilly enough, but soon moves into another realm through increasingly complex games that eventually lead to the play’s shock ending. At least, it’s a shock if you haven’t seen either the play or the movie before, which is unlikely given the play’s age and the number of times it has been staged or presented on screen.

 

As the two key characters, MacEachern and Chambers are highly effective and well contrasted. As believable as they can be, given the restrictions of the script, MacEachern’s robust and playful performance works extremely well in conjunction with Chambers’ as his first tentative reactions builds into what appears to be a switch in control.

 

Thus, although it is probably time to retire Sleuth, Kanata Theatre has delivered a fine production of an outdated play.

 

Director: Beverley Brooks

Set: Karl Wagner

Lighting: Evan Nearing

Sound: Robert Fairbairn

Costumes: Maxine Ball

 

Cast:

Andrew Wyke……………………………………..Dale MacEachern

Milo Tindle………………………………………..Jarrod Chambers

Inspector Doppler…………………………………James Knowlton

DS Tarrant…………………………………………Ian Redpath

PC Higgs…………………………………………..Rohan Brooks