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see the prisoners as suffering human
beings grappling with God and the
Holocaust rather than as cardboard
mouthpieces for a range of positions.
Part of that urgency derives from
a selection process made a few hours
before — but not yet carried out — to
clear room in the barracks for a group
of new arrivals. While death always
lurks in Auschwitz, it has crept into the
bunks of several of the inmates.
God on Trial is that rare work that
speaks to everyone, from rabbis with
a thousand sermons under their key-
boards to 8-year-olds forming their
first questions, from Orthodox Jews to
atheistic "cultural" Jews. It is satisfying-
ly cerebral, but unfailingly accessible.
The film also has an emotional
undercurrent, but it does not aspire
to bathos. Courtrooms are about evi-
dence and the law, not sentiment. As
for the film itself, the verdict could not
be clearer: God on Trial is great, great
hile both the 1972 and
2007 film versions of the
1970 Anthony Shaffer play
Sleuth had a sinister tone, the current
Jewish Ensemble Theatre production,
running through Nov. 23, begins with
more slapstick than creepiness.
Sleuth is more than a simple who-
dunit. At times, it's hard to tell exactly
what is being done to whom as the
two lead characters embark on a series
of games and one-upmanship that
keep the audience guessing right up
until the surprise ending.
This satisfying produc-
tion opens when Milo
Tindle, played by Kevin
Young, arrives at the
lavishly appointed English manor
house of Andrew Wyke, played by
Mark Rademacher. Wyke, a success-
ful middle-aged mystery writer, has
invited the much younger Tindle over
for a sociable evening of drinks and
The friendly pretense is shattered
when Wyke hands Tindle a cut-crystal
glass of Scotch on ice and says, "So,
I understand you want to marry my
wife' Let the games begin.
Rather than play the part of
betrayed, Wyke addresses the issue of
money. He points out that Tindle, who
owns a modest travel agency in South
London, will never be able to satisfy
the material needs of Marguerite,
who has become accustomed to the
luxurious lifestyle that Wyke's suc-
cessful writing career has afforded. He
offers Tindle a solution in the form of
a carefully conceived plot wherein the
Walk-ins always welcome!
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God on Trial airs 9 p.m. Sunday,
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with any Color Service over $40
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younger man steals a cache of valuable
jewels from Wyke's safe to pawn for a
large amount of cash, enough to start
a new life with the older man's wife,
while Wyke will collect the insurance.
Young portrays the aspiring lover
Tindle very believably, alternating
between brash arrogance and self-
doubting insecurity as the plot twists
and turns. Rademacher is effective as
the cuckolded Wyke although he plays
the character with a heavier hand than
either Sir Lawrence Olivier or Michael
Caine, his predecessors in the two
The script includes frequent move-
ment from one end of the set to the
other, as well as several cos-
tume changes; and Director
Shauna Kanter makes good
use of these techniques to
keep the play moving at a lively pace.
Set designer Pavlo Bosy deserves
star credit for creating an environment
befitting Wyke's eccentric yet urbane
personality. The writer's fondness for
games and playacting is evidenced by
his offbeat decor and array of quirky
possessions. The living room and
study are filled with several grandfa-
ther and cuckoo clocks, many of which
are crooked; a trunk filled with vari-
ous costumes; an in-progress board
game set up on a table at the front of
the stage; and a life-size puppet of an
old sea captain, which laughs menac-
ingly whenever its master presses the
appropriate button. L
Sleuth runs at JET in West
Bloomfield through Nov. 23.
(248) 788-2900 or
Mt a IMIt
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Sleuth at JET
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November 6 • 2008 C5