Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Many people who were adults in the 1970s saw the movie version of Anthony Shaffer's play Sleuth. By now, if you're like me and other people I talked to in the audience at the Vortex Theatre, you have forgotten how it ends, or you have mixed it up with Deathtrap (Sleuth came first).
The only part of the plot that I can reveal is that it's about an older writer of British mysteries named Andrew Wyke who invites a younger man, Milo Tindle, to his home for the evening. Andrew's wife is having an affair with the younger man. It takes off from there. The plot is far-fetched, but the dialogue is witty and the play is always fun and at times suspenseful. It definitely keeps you guessing.
Sleuth provides very juicy roles for both leads. Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine were both nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for the movie, and if we were in New York instead of Albuquerque, Peter Shea Kierst and Micah Linford may be contenders for acting honors at the Obie awards. They each have an awful lot of lines to deliver, and they do so swimmingly, despite having to grapple with British accents. Olivier and Caine had the advantage of being able to do another take. Not so in live theater, which makes Kierst and Linford's accomplishments even more impressive.
Of course, they have a great director to guide them. James Cady has taken on several of the great American dramas (by O'Neill and Miller, for example), so Sleuth might seem like a lightweight project for him. But that doesn't mean it's a lot easier to direct. The blocking here is just right, and there are more special effects than you would anticipate.
The set is the living room of Andrew's house, and it looks ready to be moved into. Mary Rossman designed it, Steven Blacksmith built it, and Linda Wilson and Linda Sklov helped paint it. It's remarkable. So are the props and set decoration by Linda Wilson. So many chessboards!
Sleuth is approaching its fiftieth anniversary and it hasn't aged at all. There's still a healthy audience for comedy-mystery-suspense stories, and Sleuth is one of the best of the genre. We're fortunate that Jim Cady and the Vortex have brought it back to us.
Sleuth, Through April 14, 2019, at Vortex Theatre, 2900 Carlisle NE, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2:00. Tickets $21 to $24. For tickets and information, visit vortexabq.org or call 505-247-8600.