Sleuth Review by Nina Jervis

March 26, 2024

Thanks to Nina Jervis from for this review.

I’ve somehow managed to avoid knowing anything about Sleuth, the Tony Award- winning play that also garnered two film adaptations in 1972 and 2007 – both of them starring Michael Caine.

Written by Anthony Shaffer, the wordy psychological thriller went down a storm during its first West End run back in 1970. In 2024, the two main characters are played by Todd Boyce – last seen as the dastardly Steven Reid in Coronation Street – and EastEnders’ Neil McDermott (so there’s something of a battle of soaps as well as minds).

For those who also aren’t familiar with the plot, Andrew Wyke (Boyce) is a successful and grossly egotistical detective-fiction author, who resides in a stately home-type abode filled with esoteric games, hieroglyphs, and terrifyingly lifelike dolls.

The play opens with him receiving a visitor, Milo Tindle (McDermott); a younger man who plans to marry Wyke’s wife, Marguerite. A twisty-turny psycho-battle ensues, which – amongst other things – include tall tales, loud bangs, desperate conversations… and some utterly absurd costumes!

The two-storey set is impressive: vivid, lifelike, and gloriously detailed. My fiancé David and I enjoyed counting and categorising Wyke’s strategically-placed collection of unusual knick-knacks, trying to guess which of them might come into play as the story unfolded.

It’s certainly a well-paced story and the dialogue is colourful and sharp in places, particularly from Wyke. However, much of its 70’s-famed wit has become horrendously outdated and even borderline offensive, in ways that reminded me of that famous quote: “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there”.

Dare I say it, but I also found the plot’s many twists and turns glaringly easy to guess; though it’s possible that like much of Agatha Christie’s work, the story has inspired newer thrillers. That said, some parts felt so obvious that I couldn’t help wondering if they had been specifically acted that way (perhaps to make dunderheaded audience members like me feel ‘clever’!)

Although the performances were slick and accomplished, the characters felt more like extravagant caricatures. I found it difficult to empathise with or root for anyone in particular, which, coupled with the easily-guessable plot, meant my attention seriously waned during the second act.

Had I gone to see this play in its 1970s heyday, I’m sure I would have been gripped. Maybe if I’d had fond memories of seeing it – or either of the film adaptations – before, I’d have enjoyed a hit of warm nostalgia. But as it is, I’m not certain that Sleuth is a play that needed to be revived.


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