In Sleuth, a famous mystery writer becomes wrapped up in some real-life gamesmanship with his handsome new neighbour, who has designs on his wife. As fiction blurs with reality, the two act out their ingenious detective plots on one another.
The original 1970 production of Sleuth was a success on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1972, it was made into a major film starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Still regularly staged, Sleuth's last major UK outing was in 1999 with a country-wide tour that also starred Peter Bowles as crime writer Andrew Wyke.
Best known to TV fans for his roles in sitcoms such as To the Manor Born, Only When I Laugh and Perfect Scoundrels, Bowles' other recent stage appearances have included The Royal Family, The Beau, Major Barbara and The Entertainers, all in the West End. He is joined in the cast by Gray O'Brien (from TV's Casualty and Peak Practice).
The production, first seen for a brief season in June at Windsor's Theatre Royal, is directed by Elijah Moshinsky and designed by Paul Farnsworth, with lighting by Nick Richings and sound by Simon Whitehorn. It is produced by Bill Kenwright.
Though Sleuth was unquestionably his greatest success, Anthony Shaffer (brother of Peter Amadeus Shaffer) also wrote Murderer, Whodunnit and The Savage Pride for the stage, while his films included The Wicker Man, Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile, Appointment with Death, Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy and the film adaptation of Sleuth. Shaffer died of a heart attack on 6 November 2001, aged 75.
- by Terri Paddock