Sleuth promises a thrill for the mind

The Village Theatre's "Sleuth," written by Anthony Shaffer and director by Martin Charnin, promises an enigma of twists and turns that keeps the audience tricked and guessing until the end.

The stage set at Village Theatre for Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth is as full of puzzles as the play itself. Pictures is actor David Pichette

The stage set at Village Theatre for Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth is as full of puzzles as the play itself. Pictures is actor David Pichette

The Village Theatre’s newest production promises an enigma of twists and turns that keeps the audience tricked and guessing until the end.

Anthony Shaffer’s “Sleuth” is a 1970s British thriller, a term that meant something much different when it debuted 40 years ago, said Director Martin Charnin, famous for conceiving the hit musical “Annie.”

Unlike modern thrillers, the excitement of “Sleuth” isn’t seeded in predictable action and violence mechanisms, but in intellectual puzzles.

“It’s the ability to be 1-2-3 steps ahead of your audience, to give them something they haven’t seen before,” Charnin said. “Invariably you reach the end of the play and discover you didn’t get it right.”

The lines are also so thick with vocabulary, the viewers might benefit from a thesaurus, he added. “It’s a play fraught with language.”

However, the whodunnit isn’t so infinitely mysterious that viewers leave as confused as they started, he added.

Typically Village performs one play a season, and it’s usually a comedy. Likewise, this play promises to be fun, but not first without stimulating brain cells that might otherwise be left atrophied by conveniently written lackluster plots.

“It’s the kind of fun you don’t normally experience in a theater,” Charnin said.

Thrillers haven’t made a comeback to Broadway since Sleuth made its debut in 1970. The unusual pick is among the reasons why the famous director is attracted to Village, said the Issaquah resident.

He was first drawn in by the Village Originals program, which builds up new musicals and gives some a chance at a mainstage performance.

“Sleuth” tells the story of wealthy mystery novelist Andrew Wyke, played by David Pichette, who has a fascination with games and puzzles.

Wyke invites Milo Tindle, played by M.J. Sieber, to his elegant and isolated country house to settle a bit of unpleasant business.

What begins as a bizarre game of cat and mouse spirals into a complex duel of wits and deceptions.

The prodigious set is filled with innumerable props, hand-picked books, and eerie tinker toys.

The play promises much more than the 2007 film, and audience members are encouraged to keep the plot a secret for the enjoyment of other guests.

RedHeader

“Sleuth” by Village Theatre

8 p.m., Wed.-Sat.; 2 p.m., Sun.-Sat.; 7:30 p.m., Tues.; 7 p.m. Sun.

Tickets: $41-$60, general; $25-$56, youth and senior discounts

For more information go to villagetheatre.org

M.J. Sieber, who plays Milo Tindle, left and actor David Pichette, who plays Andrew Wyke, are pictures on stage at the Village Theatre.

Contributed


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