Gerald Carpenter: Ensemble Theater consults a “detective” | Culture & Leisure

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Daniel Gerroll

Matthew Floyd Miller
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Matthew Floyd Miller

The Ensemble Theater Company (ETC) presents a new production of Anthony Shaffer’s Tony Award-winning play ‘Sleuth (1970)’ June 9-26.

Directed by Jenny Sullivan, with sets by Fred Kinney, lighting by Jared A. Sayeg, costumes by Dianne K. Graebner, and sound by Randall Robert Tico, “Sleuth” stars Daniel Gerroll and Matthew Floyd Miller, with the support from Cornelius Patrick, Doug Ralston and Charles Patrick.

As described by Wikipedia, “The play is set in the Wiltshire mansion of Andrew Wyke, a hugely successful mystery writer. Wyke’s home reflects his obsession with the inventions and deceptions of fiction and his fascination with games and He lures his wife’s lover, Milo Tindle, to the house and convinces him to stage a theft of her jewelry, a proposition that sets off a chain of events that leaves the audience trying to decipher where to go. Wyke’s imagination ends and reality begins.”

“Sleuth” is great fun, like Harold Pinter on Methedrine, without Pinter’s empathy. To some extent a duel, to a similar extent a harassment – which may well be reciprocal – it becomes increasingly difficult to know who is predator and who is prey, who is teasing and who is targeting.

Wyke starts with the moral upside – Tindle is, after all, an adulterer – but after the moral high ground has been claimed and lost half a dozen times by the two men, it comes down to who deserves the l ‘carry. As in life, this ambivalence never reaches a fully convincing resolution.

Anthony Joshua Shaffer (1926-2001) and Sir Peter Levin Shaffer, CBE (1926-2016) were monozygotic twins, who both wrote novels, plays and screenplays, and achieved enviable success in all three genres.

“Sleuth” is by far Anthony’s best-known piece, but his brother contributed to a whole handful of famous pieces: “Five Finger Exercise (1958)”, “The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1958/1964)” , “Equus (1973), “”Amadeus (1979)” and “Lettice and Lovage (1987)”.

Peter’s scripts were mostly adaptations of his own plays for the screen, but Anthony’s film work includes a brilliant screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Frenzy (1972)’, the British cult film ‘The Wicker Man (1973)” and four very successful adaptations. of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels, “Murder on the Orient Express (1974)”, “Death on the Nile (1978)”, “Evil Under the Sun (1982) and “Appointment with Death (1988)”.

Those who rely on twin studies to proclaim the primacy of nature over nurture in the formation of personality or character may wish to place an asterisk next to the Shaffer brothers, for while Anthony was a runner compulsively married three times, her brother was a homosexual homebody. , and although he survived his life partner (New York-based singing teacher Robert Leonard) by around 26 years, the two are buried side by side in Highgate Cemetery.

Two messages from the Ensemble:

“‘Sleuth’ is made possible through the generosity of ETC’s 2021-22 season sponsor, Dana White, and production sponsor Paula Y. Bruice.”


“For the health and safety of our audience, ETC strongly suggests that audiences wear masks during performances. ETC is offering free ticket exchanges or refunds if you are feeling unwell and unable to attend a performance. , as well as flexible seating in the theatre.”

Tickets for “Sleuth” are $25-$40 and can be purchased in person at the New Vic Box Office, 33 W. Victoria St., by phone at 805-965-5400, by email at [email protected]or online at

– Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk Contributing Writer. He can be reached at [email protected] The opinions expressed are his own.


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