BWW Reviews: In SLEUTH, Game Playing is the Order of the Day
With the popularity of pop culture sensations such as Diablo III and Words With Friends, it is obvious that the public likes a good game. Playing with another person's emotions is a completely different type of amusement. It is this type of game playing that is the order of the day in Anthony Shaffer's mystery, Sleuth.
Now playing at Olney Theatre Center, the Tony Award winning play was the basis for a film of the same name starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. The film was later remade in 2007, again with Caine, co-starring, Jude Law.
At first glance, Sleuth looks like a typical English mystery. All of the elements are there – a grand country manor, a wealthy cuckolded mystery writer husband, and the young upstart who is aiming to take away his wife. But this isn't a typical mystery and what transpires is a game of wit and one-upmanship.
Departing Artistic Director, Jim Petosa, does an admirable job with this show. It works well in many places but overall it is uneven. The first act drags a bit and there are a few instances where the jokes don't land.
The second act moves better and the two leads, Bob Ari and Jefferies Thaiss, have some fine moments.
Bob Ari plays betrayed husband, Andrew Wyke. He does an excellent job portraying the animated mystery writer. However, there are times when the animation is so heightened that significant lines get lost.
Jefferies Thaiss gives a layered performance as the more innocent Milo Tindle. He successfully brings forth unexpected sides of the character. He partners with Mr. Ari quite well and both display a great commitment to their characters.
Cristina Todesco has provided a striking white set that bring to mind some of the art deco sets that appeared in the old Poirot TV series. Daniel MacLean Wagner's lighting design enhances the setting and the mood. Nicole V. Moody completes the picture with her costumes. Each one communicates the characters' station in life.
Sleuth is definitely not your typical murder mystery even though it is a bit predictable. Despite a few problems it does have a skilled cast and some entertaining moments. Sleuth is running at Olney Theatre through July 8th.
Olney Theatre Center is located at 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD 20832
Theater and ticket information may be found at www.olneytheatre.org or by calling 301924-4485.
Photo Credit: Stan Barouh