Theatre Raleigh Lets the Audience Become the “Sleuth”

"Sleuth" stars Jesse R. Gephart (seated) and Michael Brocki (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)
“Sleuth” stars Jesse R. Gephart (seated) and Michael Brocki (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

SO: Milo Tindle wants to marry Andrew Wyke’s wife, and he drops by to ask for permission. What could possibly happen? As members of the Aug. 5th opening-night audience of Theatre Raleigh’s Hot Summer Nights production of Sleuth, we become the detectives, trying to gauge not just “Who done it?” but also “who done what” and “who will do what?”

John C. McIlwee directs Michael Brocki (as Andrew Wyke) and Jesse R. Gephart (as Milo Tindle, Inspector Doppler, Det. Sgt. Tarrant, and P.C. Higgs) in this mystery-in-progress. Wyke is a mystery writer; the play begins with him at the typewriter, putting the finishing touches on his latest work. He reads aloud from the denouement, giving us a glimpse of his over-the-top imagination and his performance skills. The clock strikes eight, and the doorbell rings ….

The setting is Wyke’s manor house (that we learn is in Wiltshire, England), about mid-20th century. Chris Bernier’s set is quite impressive. In addition to the ornately adorned walls, the staircase, and the period furnishings, the room is furnished with “Sir Galahad” — a very tall suit of armor that dominates the up-left-center area of the stage. Does this suggest some sort of jousting?

Denise Schumaker’s props complement the set nicely. There is also some kind of a game-in-progress on the coffee table and a stack of games on the upstage-left bookshelf. Among the games: a chess board and chess pieces — more suggestions of head-to-head competition? And one of the games is we can see is “Othello” (named after William Shakespeare’s famous jealous cuckold), and Milo wants to marry Andrew’s wife! Does this portend ill?

Michael Brocki’s Wyke is a true full-of-himself mystery writer. The character is witty and arrogant; nothing he says or does should surprise us.

Jesse Gephart — well the program lists four characters that he plays — so be prepared to be impressed (in surprising ways)!

From the department of picky-picky: Act I seemed to play a little slow on opening night, but it picked up nicely after intermission.

The play is a continuous game of cat-and-mouse, and the roles of cat and mouse reverse over and over again. Who traps whom? Who lives? And who dies? AND … WHO DONE WHAT?

SECOND OPINION: Aug. 6th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks:; Aug. 5th Durham, NC Indy Week minipreview by Byron Woods:; and July 24th Raleigh, NC Raleigh preview by the BWW News Desk:

Theatre Raleigh presents SLEUTH at 8 p.m. Aug. 7, 2 and 8 p.m. Aug. 8, 3 p.m. Aug. 9, 8 p.m. Aug. 12-14, 2 and 8 p.m. Aug. 15, and 3 p.m. Aug. 16 in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $27 ($25 students, seniors 65+, and active-duty military personnel).

BOX OFFICE: 866-811-4111,, or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-832-9997 or






NOTE: Theatre Raleigh rates this show R (due to adult subject matter and language).


Sleuth (1970 West End and Broadway play): (Samuel French), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Script: (Google Books).

Anthony Shaffer (English playwright and screenwriter, 1926-2001): (The Life & Work of Anthony Shaffer), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).


Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.