Review by Becca Bryers
A puzzling and awe-inspiring experience for all armchair detectives.
Well it is very difficult to know where to start with this review... how to tread lightly enough not to give away what is most spectacular and clever about Anthony Shaffer's complex thriller.
Like much detective fiction, there is something about being pulled along as a passive detective in an unknown unfolding mystery that grabs the attention of the audience.
The whole play is set entirely in the country house of Andrew Wyke, a world-famous crime writer who believes strongly in upper-class culture and superiority.
On the invitation of Andrew act one sees the introduction of Milo Tindle, a younger man of Italian descent who wishes to marry Andrew's wife Marguerite.
Andrew indicates that he cares little for his wife having a mistress himself and wishes merely to advise Milo on the spending habits of his wife.
Continuing, he sets out a plan in which Milo will break into the country house to steal some precious jewels to finance Marguerite, whilst Andrew will benefit from the resulting insurance money.
Much hilarity is gained from the dressing up of Milo in a wonderfully over-the-top clown outfit and his clumsy attempt at being criminal, yet it is not long before the first sinister twist of the play is introduced.
Distributed throughout the stage are a collection of different board games from around the world, any amateur detective would pick up on their significance.
The action of the play becomes tied up in complex physical and psychological power games between the two men that invites the audience to become a third detached player who is left guessing until the hugely creepy end.
Discussions again and again return to the meta-fictional theme of art of detective fiction in relation to the "real-life" situation onstage, adding an ironic criticism of the form and content of the play.
Characters challenge the class snobbery, otherness prejudice and negative portrayals of the police that the traditional British detective story champion.
As Andrew Wyke Casualty star Simon MacCorkindale is impossible to pin down, impressively displaying a continuous cartwheel of emotional performances that hint at a possible madness to the character without causing the audience to lose belief in him.
Michael Praed as Milo Twindle at first seems to be a little unemotional in delivery but as the play goes on turns the character into an engaging and fluid creation.
There is great skill in playing a performance within a performance, and all actors bring Shaffer's long running production the approach it deserves.
For a puzzling and awe-inspiring experience grab your magnifying glass and make your way down to the Theatre Royal for a rather bizarre 'whodunnit'.
Sleuth is on at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 5 April 2008. For more information contact the box office on 0115 989 5555.
last updated: 01/04/2008 at 14:57