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First edition 1970
Written byAnthony Shaffer
  • Milo Tindle
  • Andrew Wyke
  • Inspector Doppler
  • Detective Sergeant Tarrant
  • Police Constable Higgs
Date premieredNovember 12, 1970 (1970-11-12)
Place premieredMusic Box Theatre, New York City
Original languageEnglish
GenreMystery, thriller
SettingA manor house in Wiltshire, England, on a summer evening

Sleuth is a 1970 play written by Anthony Shaffer. The Broadway production received the Tony Award for Best Play, and Anthony Quayle and Keith Baxter received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance. The play was adapted for feature films in 1972, 2007 and 2014.

Plot summary

The play is set in the Wiltshire manor house of Andrew Wyke, an immensely successful mystery writer. Wyke's home reflects his obsession with the inventions and deceptions of fiction and his fascination with games and game-playing. He lures his wife's lover Milo Tindle to the house and convinces him to stage a robbery of her jewelry, a proposal that sets off a chain of events that leaves the audience trying to decipher where Wyke's imagination ends and reality begins.

Shaffer said the play was partially inspired by one of his friends, composer Stephen Sondheim, whose intense interest in game-playing is mirrored by the character of Wyke, and by mystery writer John Dickson Carr, whose stories featured complex plots and seemingly "impossible" crimes.


Paul Rogers and Keith Baxter in the Broadway production of Sleuth (1971)

Directed by Clifford Williams, Sleuth opened on 12 January 1970 at the Royal Theatre in Brighton, England then transferred from 12 February 1970 to St Martin's Theatre, London with Anthony Quayle as Andrew Wyke and Keith Baxter as Milo Tindle. It had several changes of cast and venue in its run of 2,359 performances in the West End with Marius Goring as Andrew Wyke and John Fraser then Anthony Valentine as Milo Tindle having the longest run in the play between August 1971 and March 1973. It transferred to the Garrick Theatre in March 1973 for seven months then finished its run at the Fortune Theatre in October 1975.[1]

The play also transferred to the United States and opened on Broadway on November 12, 1970, at the Music Box Theatre, where it ran for 1,222 performances. Anthony Quayle and Keith Baxter starred as Andrew Wyke and Milo Tindle, with other parts listed as played by Stanley Wright, Sydney Maycock and Liam McNulty.

When Quayle left the production in 1972, he was succeeded by Paul Rogers, George Rose and Patrick Macnee. Baxter was succeeded by Brian Murray then Donal Donnelly, Jordan Christopher and Curt Dawson.[2]


Sleuth received the 1971 Tony Award for Best Play, and received nominations for Best Direction of a Play (Clifford Williams) and Best Lighting Design (William Ritman). Anthony Quayle and Keith Baxter received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance. Sleuth also received the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Play.

Film adaptations

Main articles: Sleuth (1972 film), Sleuth (2007 film), and Tamanna (2014 film)

In 1972, Shaffer adapted his play for film, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Another film adaptation was released in 2007 with a screenplay by Harold Pinter. The 2007 film was directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Michael Caine and Jude Law as Milo Tindle, originally played by Caine in the 1972 version.

The play inspired Raja Dasgupta's Bengali film Tiktiki, released in 2012. The film starred Soumitra Chattopadhyay and Kaushik Sen.

The play was also the basis for the film Tamanna. Whilst some of the interactions between the two men are similar, the film has roles for not just Wyke's wife, but also his second, younger wife, the Tindle character's object of desire, and the outcome for the characters is darker. The milieu is Pakistan's film industry, Lollywood in its dying days, and is used an allegory of wider issues. The dialogue, in Urdu, and the scenario are adapted in numerous ways for both Pakistani and Islamic culture.[citation needed]

In 2022, Bengali director Dhrubo Banerjee's first web series, titled Tiktiki, which stars Kaushik Ganguly and Anirban Bhattacharya in the lead roles. Inspired by the play, the series was released on Hoichoi, on 18 March 2022. The series is also announced to be the platform's 100th original series.[3][4]


  1. ^ "Sleuth". Theatricalia. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  2. ^ "Sleuth". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  3. ^ Tiktiki (টিকটিকি) | Official Trailer | Anirban, Kaushik Ganguly |Dhrubo Banerjee | 18th Mar |hoichoi, 12 March 2022, retrieved 12 March 2022
  4. ^ "বিখ্যাত নাটক থেকে ওয়েব সিরিজ, কতটা জমল অনির্বাণ-কৌশিকের 'টিকটিকি'?". sangbadpratidin. Retrieved 23 March 2022.