first night


Joe Kelen takes a trip to Ushaw College to see 3DTC's 'Sleuth'


Sleuth, a play set in the Wiltshire manor house of Andrew Wyke, or in this case the grounds of Ushaw college. Is a murder mystery of intricate detail. Andrew Wyke (played by Wilf Wort) invites his wifes lover, Milo Tindle (played by Lewis Picard), to stage a robbery of her jewellery, which in turn sets of a chain of events of increasing deception, where we cannot know where imagination ends and reality begins.

The play is a remarkable patchwork of slight of hands, deception and psychological thrillers, involving chess pieces, pianos and a stage littered with clues for the audience to pick up on, which meld into each other constantly. This trickery was well-handled by the directors, who worked the intricacies of the direction remarkably well. So too must we congratulate the choice of location: whilst certainly Ushaw College is remote, this chimed well with the, at points broken, 4th wall nature of the show: having the characters intermingle with the audience at the start in a mock-book signing, the theatre itself feeling more like a large study than an artificial stage.

Notable commendation should certainly be given to Wilf Wort, whos stylistic acting brought out the absurdity of Andrew Wykes, the protagonist. Watching him onstage was almost a constant marvel, and he dealt with the complex facets of his character brilliantly. What Wilfs domination of the text did however mean, was that for this show to succeed, we needed a similar complexity to be found within Milo Tindle. The play is a duologue, and as such requires the same levels of variation as a subtle game, described so deftly in the play, with variations in each actors character to reflect the subtle strengths, or vulnerabilities of the others barbs. This sadly felt lacking In Lewiss performance, and what the language clearly intended to be a brilliant game of highs and lows appeared at points to be too one-sided, as Wilfs reactions and attacks were not matched in turn. Whilst it always appears dramatic cliché, the naturalistic elements that Ushaw College and the book signing installed, meant that we truly needed to belief both characters were real people, which I felt did not come off. One however amazing addition to the play was the talking mannequin, so wonderfully come to life, which was brilliantly utilised on many occasion when the dialogue became too dense.

Overall, this was a good performance from two first time directors, which was lovely to watch in a beautiful location, and a great night overall.

16 June 2015

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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