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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 11, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 06
Sleuth a clever and insightful production
Arts & Entertainment
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Sleuth a clever and insightful production

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Sleuth
The Village Theatre
In Issaquah through February 27
In Everett March 4-March 27


The Anthony Shaffer play Sleuth, now at Village Theatre in Issaquah, benefits from people not knowing the plot, since a lot of the fun comes from discovering the tricks the lead characters pull on each other. A huge part of the effort comes from elaborately technical set design tricks, and as usual, Village does that very well. Village is known for putting a large budget toward elaborate sets, usually making a solid production feel that much more lush. Martin Christoffel and his set team designed breakaway props that get shot at, and an enormous laughing stuffed man, all to enhance the fun of the production.

The play takes place in the main room of a mansion owned by Wyke. There are statuettes, floor to ceiling books with a library stair slider, a fireplace, stairs, and a desk for Wyke to write at with an old-fashioned heavy black typewriter on top. Several kinds of games, including chess, are set up, and a cart for serving bourbon and other such beverages stands at the ready.

Most of the fun is watching main actors David Pichette and MJ Sieber play one-upmanship. Pichette plays mystery writer Andrew Wyke and displays a range of accents and funny quirks as Wyke winds a trap around a suspicious but open-minded Milo Tindle, the young man who is having an affair with Mrs. Wyke. Wyke thinks that because he writes mysteries and knows a lot of police procedure he can easily bamboozle Tindle.

Sieber, as Tindle, shows a certain ability to match wits with Wyke. Tindle isn't quite a boob with no understanding. Indeed, Wyke finds himself intrigued by and interested in Tindle's ability to stand up to him. Tindle easily owns up to loving Mrs. Wyke, and Wyke announces that he is perfectly happy to have her love someone else, as Wyke is sick of her. However, Wyke announces that he's afraid that Tindle won't be able to keep her, since Tindle doesn't have enough money to allow Mrs. Wyke to spend in the style she has become accustomed to with Wyke.

Wyke then suggests that Tindle pretend to steal from Wyke. That will give Wyke the insurance money, Tindle the stolen merchandise and Wyke can confidently get rid of the burden of his cheating spouse, and everyone can be happy. Thus begins the cat and mouse game.

Should Tindle believe Wyke? Pichette creates a very believable, though byzantine, impression. He also shows the grandiose and smarter-than-everyone character of Wyke. Sieber's character wants to believe that Mrs. Wyke will love him for his own self and won't need money, but has the good sense to realize that money might be necessary. Tindle loves her enough to want to make sure she's happy with him. Sieber plays a thinking young man, not unaware that there could be hidden motives.

Director Martin Charnin moves the chess pieces with finesse. The second act seems a bit bogged down in rhythms, but overall, the jokes work, the set works, and the mystery works. Charnin's love of wordplay translates well to his players, and his personal connection to the play's origins give him an edge in insight.

For more information, go to www.villagetheatre.org or call 425-392-2202.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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