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Photo credit Vertigo Theatre

Sleuth marries humour and suspense for an unforgettable show

By Nazeefa Ahmed, December 11 2023—

From Nov. 18 to Dec. 17, Vertigo Theatre presents Sleuth, a murder mystery that laces the “whodunnit” trope with unabashed and witty humour – an Anthony Shaffer classic. The show is one among a series of mystery plays hosted this season. 

Sleuth is a play by Anthony Shaffer from the 70s which follows a successful mystery writer Andrew Wyke, who is met with the challenge of young bachelor Milo Tindle wanting to marry his wife. Wyke convinces Tindle to stage a robbery and steal his jewels to support his wife’s luxurious lifestyle. However, Wyke operates on moves and countermoves and traps Tindle into something he never signed up for. In 1971, the play won a Tony Award and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for best play.

Director Cherissa Richards brings Shaffer’s play to life with a unified cast and brilliant set design, the show moving seamlessly from one moment to the next. Audience members cackled at the jokes and gasped in unison at the numerous plot twists, both gripped by the suspense and absurdity.

The brilliant chemistry between Braden Griffiths and Christopher Hunt, playing the apprehensive Milo Tindle and domineering Andrew Wike respectively, truly set the show apart. The superficial jabs by the characters lay on top of a foundation of mutual respect as they fight to assert dominance over absurd circumstances. To marry Wyke’s wife, Tindle has to prove himself worthy. However, Wyke slowly degrades him from his position as a young, handsome, and capable man to a clown playing puppet for his master. In the second scene, the power shifts and desperation takes over as the men walk the tightrope between sanity and pride.

Underneath the classic murder mystery lies the humour, delivered impeccably by the actors. Inspector Doppler, played by Helen Knight, plays the part of an exacting cop with your-neighbourhood-librarian energy that is surprisingly just what the show needs to balance out the manly catfight in the forefront. The murder is taken seriously, but the back-and-forth jabs provide relief from the stiff nature of many mystery plays.   

The custom furniture on set, built by Riley Miljan, symbolized Wyke’s love for games including chess piece chairs and crafted game pieces that were used strategically throughout the show. The crystal decanter bottle is shaped like a diamond beautifully glinted in under the lights, acting as a centrepiece that anchors the show. Overall, set designer Andy Moro designed the Wiltshire manor house with an eye for interior design that matches his characters perfectly. 

For mystery lovers, Sleuth is a play that delivers a cat-and-mouse chase while still remaining playful. Tickets to see Sleuth and more of Vertigo Theatre’s shows can be found on their website.

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