Game, Set and Match to PCS’s SLEUTH

by Lisa Panzer
Michael Steven Schultz and Craig Copas star in SLEUTH at Players Club of Swarthmore.

Michael Steven Schultz and Craig Copas star in SLEUTH at Players Club of Swarthmore.

Applause rang opening night for SLEUTH as the curtain rose revealing a beautiful bi-level set featuring a lovely Victorian parlor with a dash of humor, and the audience continued to be captivated throughout the performance. Written by Anthony Shaffer, this mystery play surpasses the usual whodunit, spiraling into a thrilling game of cat and mouse between a kooky but cunning cuckold and his wife’s young lover. Shaffer’s SLEUTH took the Tony Award in 1971 and inspired two film versions to be produced.

Andrew Whyte (Michael Steven Schultz), a wealthy eccentric writer of detective novels used to getting his way, invites his wife’s lover, Milo Tindle (Craig Copas) over for a civilized chat regarding how Milo intends to support her in the style she had become accustomed to while married to Whyte. After an engaging espository conversation, it is determined that Milo will follow a plan hatched by Whyte to burglarize the house for jewels to fence for cash, leaving Whyte free to consort with his mistress and eligible to collect compensation for the theft via insurance. All sounds feasible on the surface, but undercurrents of deviousness, duality and deception make for treacherous eddies, which criss cross and whirl into a vortex of vendetta and revenge.

Michael Steven Schultz and Craig Copas kept all riveted via their well tuned repartee during their war of wit and games of dangerous consequence. The level of detail demonstrated by the cast in the crafting of the characters, and stage business is remarkable, as is their use of pacing and timing in building tension. Audience members were stirred – Vinny Ali, an actor and first time visitor to PCS, found the dedication and professionalism displayed on stage inspirational. The set (Bohdan Senkow) is glorious, replete with a live fish tank, lighted fire place, yet it is not overdone. Lighting (Charles Hoover, Adam Young) and sound (Charlotte Kirkby, Emma Ricciardi) are well done and enhance the production; costumes (Betsy Berwick, Reba Ferdman, CIndy Scheeman) and props (Harriet Hudgins, Denise Myers Kolodziej, Pate Maze) are clever, as were the cool special effects (Bruce Nutting). All technical aspects of the show appeared to be particularly well coordinated. Again, the attention to detail in this production is phenomenal.

Chock full of tension-filled twists, danger and dubiousness, wit and wiliness, fabulous acting, sound and set design, this show as directed by Bohdan Senkow, comes out a winner!

Written by Anthony Shaffer
Directed by Bohdan Senkow
March 14 – March 30, 2013
Players Club of Swarthmore
614 Fairview Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081

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