Providence Players SleuthBy Genie Baskir • Jun 1st, 2012 • Category: Reviews
James Lee Community Center, Falls Church, VA
Through June 2nd
2:20 with intermission
Reviewed May 31st, 2012
Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth is one of those plays whose skill and attraction is grounded in its acting. If the casting is not top rate, the show becomes a two and a half hour wordy slog in uncomfortable chairs. Providence Players are presenting a good…not great…but good and solid Sleuth for two more performances.
The set is extraordinary. The entire play takes place in Andrew Wyke’s (Mike Donahue) manor house in rural England. Wyke is confronting his wife’s lover, Milo Tindle (Derek Bradley) and has devised a sneaky plan to let Milo keep his wife in return for colluding in a jewelry robbery in order to commit insurance and tax fraud. England, in 1970, was suffering from the economic malaise of 35 years of a socialist style governmental system absurdly combined with the anachronistic aristocratic schemes of diverting wealth and land into the ruling classes, thus requiring Andrew to contemplate his ruffled collar crime.
Or, maybe not. In the first act it is difficult to determine if Andrew is angry at Milo for stealing his wife….or for being Jewish. Might Andrew be less insulted if his Marguerite ran off with a good old-fashioned Church of Englander? The set up for the situations here twist and turn and there are too many spoilers here to continue on……
Donahue is a manic, scenery-chewing Andrew bouncing and climbing about the house and devising crime games for the principals to play. Bradley plays Milo as off put by Andrew but goes along with the games because he needs money and wants Marguerite. Donahue is too zany and Bradley is not zany enough, but they do all right here. It’s just them and that gorgeous set (Set Designer Patrick David).
Director Beth Hughes-Brown keeps the energy up and the action moving as we try to divine just what is going on in this play. There are good special effects and loud gunshots that wildly fracture any audience complacency. The show closes in two more performances and it is a worthwhile evening out.
Your reviewer’s Very Smart Prince is a member of Providence Players and he appeared in its production of Auntie Mame.
It’s an honor to be entrusted with directing a play as masterful as Sleuth. It’s also an honor to have actors of the caliber of Mike and Derek ( and the rest) dedicate so very much of their time and energy on this show (because Sleuth can’t even be attempted without an overwhelming commitment on the part of the actors). The set, set painting, props, costumes, makeup, and special effects are huge labors of love, and we’ve been gifted with extraordinary talents in all arenas-both technical and artistic.
Choosing to mount Sleuth is risky because so many audience members are familiar with at least one version of it, and many have an opinion as to how it should look/feel/sound. However, as with other masterful scripts, it is so rich with the joy and love Mr. Shaffer clearly felt for his characters. In fact, Andrew was patterned in many ways after one of his closest friends, one Stephen Sondheim. It is also redolent with turns of phrase that illustrate Mr. Shaffer’s love of the English language-brilliantly tailored to Andrew, the laconic pretentious wordsmith, Milo, the erstwhile young head-over-heels in love travel agent, and Inspector Doppler, the bumbling (or is he) County Constable. It is a juicy, delicious masterpiece, and I have had a wonderful time plumbing its depths with the ingenious cast and crew of Providence Players’ production of Sleuth.
Photos by Chip Gertzog
- Andrew Wyke: Mike Donahue
- Milo Tindle: Derek Bradley
- Inspector Doppler: Frank Gilles
- Detective Sergeant Tarrant: Michael McGinty
- Police Constable Higgs: Raymond Janer
- Director: Beth Hughes-Brown
- Producer: Cindy Paska
- Technical Director: Chip Gertzog
- Stage Manager: Beth Harrison
- Set Design: Patrick David
- Lighting Design: Chip Gertzog
- Sound Design: Chip Gertzog, Adonis Godneaux
- Costumes: Beth Whitehead
- Properties: Robbie Snow, Cathy Moscowitz, Michael Daze
- Set Decoration: Chelsea Megli, Jimmy Gertzog
- Hair/Makeup: Katie Brown, George Smith
Disclaimer: Providence Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8137.
Genie Baskir is a theatrical producer. She worked in radio production and direction for many years and gravitated to theatre when family members became involved with the stage.