Apollo Theatre, London W1
Opened 10 July, 2002

** Classic playful thriller given a flat, grey production

Everyone remembers the film with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Which is a pity, as this simply isn't a patch on it.

Anthony Shaffer's greatest stage hit tells of snobbish old-school mystery writer Andrew Wyke, who invites his wife's lover Milo Tindle to fake an insurance-scam burglary.  Then the truth emerges... then another truth, then another... It's one of those plays where you'd be a spoilsport to recount anything that goes on after the first half-hour, memories of the film notwithstanding.

It depends on a lightness and a skip in the step from the actors on stage, and that is quite absent here. Peter Bowles as Wyke seems to go to some lengths to make him morose, even when putting on silly voices and acting out various japes, and Gray O'Brien appears simply unable to invest Milo with any kind of animation, let alone passion, at all. There's a strain of implicit homoeroticism in the play, but director Elijah Moshinsky has it spurt out blatantly at a few moments rather than seethe constantly beneath the surface.

The film of Sleuth is re-released on video this summer; for the price of a cheap ticket for the Apollo, you could buy a DVD of it or of the remarkable Shaffer-scripted The Wicker Man, each a world away from this colourless, plodding disappointment. Do so.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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