Sleuth. Understudy Overcomes Age Gap in Great Psychological Thriller

Monday 4th to Saturday 9th March, 2024

Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

by Tony Flood

Neil McDermott & Todd Boyce

Sleuth, a Tony Award-winning play in 1971 and then an acclaimed movie a year later starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, remains one of the greatest psychological thrillers.

Anthony Shaffer’s cat-and-mouse masterpiece had the Devonshire Park Theatre audience enthralled on Monday’s opening night and is well worth seeing.

Todd Boyce

Coronation Street star Todd Boyce was indisposed on Monday so understudy Lee Peck stepped in to play the part of Andrew Wyke, a husband seeking revenge over his wife’s lover.

Peck, much younger than ageing detective novelist Andrew, coped very well, despite losing his false moustache! He proved an excellent sparring partner for Andrew’s young rival, Milo Tindle, superbly played by Neil McDermott of EastEnders fame.

Neil McDermott

The husband’s purpose for inviting Milo to his lavish country home in Wiltshire is to use gamesmanship to outwit and humiliate him. But he starts by pointing out that Milo’s plan to marry the unseen wife Marguerite will backfire because of her insatiable appetite for spending money.

He proposes that both men can make a lot of money if Milo pretends to break into his mansion and steal some jewels. Milo would be able to fence them, while Andrew could collect on the insurance. But it is a trap.

As the cunning plot unraveled many audience members were heard gasping in complete surprise, while those of us who had seen one of the two Sleuth films could enjoy reliving it.

Under the direction of Rachel Kavanaugh, the pace seldom slacked as a vicious verbal duel was interspersed with action. The tension was maintained and the tables turned with the arrival of Inspector Doppler.

Julie Godfrey provided an impressive set – the living room in Wyke’s house containing a large fireplace, leaded glass windows and a grand staircase. Our attention was also drawn to a life-sized doll in a sailor suit, Jolly Jack Tarr, who laughed at his master’s jokes. It was a pity that this ploy – and the jokes – was not used more often.


  • Tony Flood

    Author Tony Flood, who lives in Eastbourne, has spent most of his working life as a journalist, initially on local and regional papers and then on nationals. He was also editor of 'Football Monthly', Controller of Information at Sky Television and enjoyed a spell with 'The People.' In his celebrity book My Life With The Stars - Sizzling Secrets Spilled', Tony recalls: “My work as a showbiz and leisure writer, critic and editor saw me take on a variety of challenges - learning to dance with Strictly Come Dancing star Erin Boag, becoming a stand-up comedian and playing football with the late George Best and Bobby Moore in charity matches.” My Life With The Stars provides revelations and amusing anecdotes about showbiz and sports personalities including Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, George Best, Kylie Minogue, Eric Morecambe and Des O'Connor. Tony also writes in other genres and his crime thrillers have been endorsed by best-selling author Peter James. They are Triple Tease, Stitch Up - Killer or Victim? and Fall Guy - who really killed his wife?, and all feature compassionate copper DCI Harvey Livermore. In addition, there's a fantasy adventure for youngsters called Secret Potion and a book Tony has co-written with wife Heather, aptly titled Laughs and Tears Galore - short stories and poems with twists! Recently, Tony joined The Collective of seven local writers all contributing one character to family saga Driven by Desire, which is full of conflict, fierce ambition and passion as well as a dramatic kidnap. Tony also writes theatre reviews for the Eastbourne Herald, Brighton Argus and BourneFree Live, as well as playing veterans football for Sovereign Harbour Veterans. He is the oldest - and slowest - player in the team.

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