SLEUTH by Anthony Shaffer

Sleuth is a 1970 Tony Award-winning play by Anthony Shaffer.


The play is set in the Wiltshire, England manor house of Andrew Wyke, an immensely successful mystery writer. His home reflects Wyke's obsession with the inventions and deceptions of fiction and his fascination with games and game-playing. He lures his wife's lover, Milo Tindle, to the house and convinces him to stage a robbery of her jewelry, a proposal that sets off a chain of events that leaves the audience trying to decipher where Wyke's imagination ends and reality begins.


Shaffer said the play was partially inspired by one of his friends, composer Stephen Sondheim, whose intense interest in games-playing is mirrored by the character of Wyke.


The play's first production, starring Anthony Quayle and Keith Baxter, was at London's Ambassadors Theatre.


After four previews, the Broadway production, with Quayle and Baxter directed by Clifford Williams, opened on November 9, 1970 at the Music Box Theatre, where it ran for 1222 performances.


In 1972, Shaffer adapted his play for a critically and commercially successful film version directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.


In 2007, Harold Pinter wrote a new screenplay adaptation for the recently-completed 2007 film Sleuth, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Michael Caine (in the role of Andrew Wyke, originally played by Laurence Olivier) and Jude Law (in the role of Milo Tindle, originally played by Caine).


In October 2004 George Hartpence and Jerry Lyden teamed up to present the show for the ActorsNET of Bucks County in Morrisville, PA. Directed by Cheryl Doyle, it starred Jerry Lyden as the irascible Andrew Wyke and George Hartpence took on the role of the erstwhile lothario Milo Tindle. George also designed the set for this production.  If Jerry Lyden looks familiar, that's because you have seen him before. His numerous credits include appearances in such films as "Goodfellas", "Innocent Blood", and "Toy Soldiers". He has also appeared on TV in such shows as "Hack", "Law & Order", "Lois & Clark", "Homicide," and many more. 


In October of 2017 George had the opportunity to "pull a Michael Caine" and reverse roles as Andrew Wyke.   Produced by Maurer Productions OnStage and directed by Diana Gilman Maurer, it also starred Dan Keyser as Milo Tindle.  The play was performed at the Kelsey Theater on the campus of the Mercer County Community College.

SLEUTH 2004

2004 at The ActorsNET of Bucks County


directed by Cheryl Doyle

George Hartpence as Milo Tindle

Jerry Lyden as Andrew Wyke

SLEUTH 2017

2017 at Kelsey Theatre

Maurer Productions OnStage

directed by Diana Gilman Maurer 

George Hartpence as Andrew Wyke

Dan Keyser as Milo Tindle

SLEUTH Set Design for ActorsNET:

The English Manor House drawing room required a second story landing and staircase to allow for the "burglery break-in" and the first act climax shooting with a tumble down a flight of stairs. The challenge was how to make a 20'x20' stage space give the impression of a grand English Manor House. The solution was to emphasize the eccentricity of the house's owner, Andrew, an fill the area in as Byzantine a manner as possible. A stairway with landing was wrapped around the entire perimeter of the stage with a false rear wall to create the "outdoor" space necessary to the burglery and establishing two more "exits" on the second story of the set. The mystery writer's study then could occupy the entire ground floor of the stage.


To create a Normanesque architectural feel, the entire stage area was taped-out and "granitized", adding a solid and foreboding background. Appropriate set pieces were added to give an English Country feel and Andrew's obsessions with games and murder mysteries created an opportunity to populate the set with all manner of games and "murder weapons". For a lark, all the murder weapons mentioned in the board game "CLUE" were included in various locations across the stage.


As a final touch, a portrait of Andrew's wife - about whom the plot revolves but who never actually appears on stage - was hung above  

SLEUTH (2017) for Maurer Productions OnStage

George Hartpence as Andrew Wyke & Dan Keyser as Milo Tindle

Excitement and suspense await as the award-winning Maurer Productions OnStage (MPO) presents Anthony Shaffer’s “Sleuth” at Mercer County Community College's (MCCC’s) Kelsey Theatre Fridays, October 6 and 13 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, October 7 and 14 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, October 8 and 15 at 2 p.m.


Kelsey Theatre is located on the college’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on Oct. 6.


With all the ingredients of a top-notch thriller, Anthony Shaffer's “Sleuth” keeps the audience guessing as the plot twists and turns.  The action centers around two characters, Andrew Wyke, a successful crime writer who lives in a grand country manor, and his wife’s lover, Milo.  Andrew likes playing dangerous games, especially when they involve his wife’s ambitious, young paramour, but it turns out that Milo is a highly worthy opponent.  Fueled by jealousy and generational conflict, the plot also works as an elaborate parody of the Agatha Christie genre of country house thriller.
 

“Sleuth” was a hit on Broadway, earning the 1971 Tony Award for Best Play. It was adapted into film three times – in 1972, 2007 and 2014.
 

The cast features George Hartpence of New Hope, Pa., as Andrew Wyke; Dan Keyser of Bridgewater as Milo Tindle; Phillip Farrar of Morristown as Inspector Doppler; Harold K. Newman of Mahwah as Detective Sergeant Tarrant; and Roger Purnell of Wayne as Police Constable Higgs.
 

The show is directed by Diana Gilman Maurer, co-founder of MPO with her husband, John M. Maurer. The Maurers are the show’s co-producers. Other members of the production team include Master Carpenter Jeff Cantor, Lighting Designer M. Kitty Getlik, and Sound Designer Judi Parrish. Costumes are by Anthony Remer and the stage manager is Stacy Maurer.


Maurer notes that Sleuth offers complex character studies that deliver until the very end.  “Another neat thing about this production is that Mr. Hartpence played Milo Tindal 13 years ago, so now he’s come full circle,” she said.

Critical Praise

Anthony Stoeckert writes for the Princeton Packet TimeOff Entertainment section:


"Sleuth" is fun even if you know it, and because the acting is great.  Hartpence is fantastic as Andrew.  He carries the swagger of a successful, somewhat cocky, man, who enjoys having power over this younger, somewhat intimidated man.  Hartpence does a lot of talking and is in full command of his lines, filling the theater with a voice that is near royal.  He also gets plenty of laughs, both with zingers, and physical comedy. 

Maurer Productions Onstage brings Anthony Shaffer's SLEUTH to the Kelsey Stage.


The ultimate game of cat-and-mouse is played out in a cozy English country house owned by celebrated mystery writer, Andrew Wyke. Invited guest, Milo Tindle, a young rival who shares not only Wyke’s love of the game but also his wife, has come to lay claim. Before you know it, Maurer Productions OnStage will have you caught up in this spell-binding whodunnit with twists at every turn keeping you on the edge of your seat.

SLEUTH at Kelsey Theater promo video

read the full review from The Princeton Packet below