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In Light Earnest

July 2, 2012

I love mysteries. I often forget how much I love them until I the next one falls right into my lap, but I do love them. One of my favorites happens to be Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None. But I also love theatre, so when I found that someone had adapted it into a stage play, I devoured the playscript, only to spit it right back up. It was wretched and didn’t work at all as a mystery, a thriller, or a play. And so I made the sweeping judgement that the theatre can’t do mystery.

Anthony Shaffer‘s Sleuth proved me wrong. Not only is it a mystery, but it’s also a psychological thriller and that perfect kind of confusing that leaves the audience tantalized to the very last moment. Like many of its Tony-winning company, the current of man’s ultimate destination runs close beneath the surface, but such dark ponderings are only appropriate for a mystery that also asks whether you yourself will identify with the protagonist or the antagonist and which is which anyway.

Altogether, a play in light earnest. For what more could you ask?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2012 11:30 PM

    You know, I think it was Dame Agatha herself who adapted the book into the play. Just FYI (although I think somebody else manipulated her into screwing with the ending, which was a huge part of the book’s strength).

    • July 2, 2012 11:37 PM

      Yeah, the ending was a big reason why it sucked. But most adaptations suffer from one of three things:

      1) Lack of respect for the original material.
      2) Lack of knowledge of the original medium.
      3) Lack of knowledge of the new medium.

      If Dame Agatha did the adapting herself, I say it’s problem three.

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