The Playgoer: Sleuthing Out "Sleuth"

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Sleuthing Out "Sleuth"

“Is that your car?”

“On the left, right.”

“Yes, that’s my car on the right. My car is bigger than yours.”

From the opening scene of the upcoming Ken Branagh film, Sleuth, screenplay by Anthony Schaffer Harold Pinter. As quoted by Roger Ebert, who reports, enthusiastically, from the Toronto Film Fest screening.

Yes, Roger lives!

(Hat tip to Rob K for the link.)

Says the big E:

Talking to Branagh, Caine and Law on Tuesday afternoon, I got the statistics: Only one line (“It’s a game!”) from the original screenplay is used in Pinter’s. Pinter did not see the movie, read the screenplay once, sat down and wrote the original situation as a screenplay by Harold Pinter. And what Branagh and his actors have made is a Pinter film, transposing the outline of the original material into an altogether quirkier, weirder, diabolical result.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating. What we have is like the result of a challenge to two different writers to write a script on the same basic situation. To get fanciful, I think it'd be fun to see something like this happen again, for the theater, and not spread over the course of decades. Pick two playwrights (to choose two at random, Itamar Moses and Sarah Ruhl); work with them to settle on the shared subject; commission the work; produce the results back to back or, even better, in rotating rep. If I had Bill Gates's money, I'd pay for it.

Anonymous said...

We did something like this at Flux Theatre Ensemble this spring with Calderon's Life is a Dream. We did staged readings of adaptations of Jose Rivera's, Octavio Solis', the original Spanish, my own adaptation, and a full production of a more faithful translation by John Clifford. The whole event culminated in a reading where seven different playwrights each wrote one of the seven different scenes in the play, and then all were strung together. This bizarre Dream Chain included some gorgeous poetry from Amlin Gray's, a crazy WWF mash-up from Jason Grote, and an office fantasia ending from Sheila Callaghan, who has now adapted the whole thing for an upcoming commission.
It was a fascinating window into not only the classic play itself, but into the way that play resonated with contemporary artists. We're considering a similar approach to our next classic play in the Spring.
Looking forward to seeing the new Sleuth!

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a cool art show I saw last year at Deitch Projects. An artist named Bec Stupak remade the notorious indie classic Flaming Creatures by Jack Smith without ever having actually seen the movie. She'd heard about it for ages and interviewed lots of people about the film, and then tried to create a shot-for-shot remake. At the gallery, they played both films concurrently on opposite walls. It was pretty fascinating.