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David Porter » Reviews » Sleuth


Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 18 February 2005


It is no big mystery why this thriller has stood the test of time. It has some of the best twisted plots in the business.

Parallels with earlier productions since its first outing in 1970, or with Michael Caine/Laurence Olivier are beside the point.

This production in the intimacy of the Maddermarket, its stage converted to a country house, is a joy to watch – a parody of the Agatha Christie genre yet utilising many of its tricks.

Built around the classic rivalry of a younger and an older man over a woman, the twists and turns are both pleasing and ingenious. What marks this thriller is the humour that crackles throughout – “never speak ill of the deadly”.

Noel Jones as the woman’s husband is a writer who enjoys the repartee and upper hand over his wife’s lover (John Mangan). Both men carry the weight of plot, counter-plot, sleight of hand and comic punctuation with distinction.

Nothing in psychological drama is what it seems, and the second half is full of denouements and gags, for example: “Sex is the game, marriage is the penalty”.

It is all gamemanship and reality versus a fictional detective world that are finally revealed as the real rivals.

Rob Morris has directed a mini masterpiece which should appeal to lovers of all ages, all genres and of sophisticated writing.

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