Thanks to Kathie – SMCFP’s Northern Correspondent 😉
Detective skills are hardly needed to work out why last year’s new film of Sleuth flopped while this year’s new theatre version is packing them in, but let the play’s star Simon MacCorkindale help work it out.
“They departed from the original material and most of the things that were attractive in the original got left out,” says the Casualty heart-throb.
“They wanted to bring in something new and fresh but in doing that, they lost its charm, wit and relevance.”
Simon, who was on screen in Casualty until March, is delighted the touring theatre version has largely stuck with creator Anthony Shaffer’s switchback ’70s original – and with good reason. He stars in it with Michael Praed.
After a successful stint at Darlington Civic in February, it comes to the Forum in Billingham for the week from Monday amid talk of an extended tour and possible season in London’s West End.
“At Darlington, the audiences loved its dynamic energy and mystery, and I hope they will do the same in Billingham,” he says.
“I played there a year ago in The Unexpected Guest and I know it’s got a very appreciative audience.”
Simon took a break from Casualty to tour in the Agatha Christie thriller before returning last autumn. He left the BBC’s hospital saga again after his character was forced to resign.
“I’m technically gone for good,” he explains. “That was my choice but the BBC has not killed me off.”
This leaves the door open for a return, but meanwhile the stage thriller is taking up all of his energies.
Sleuth was a hit stage play nearly 40 years ago, and then a film in 1972 starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Both were nominated for Oscars.
It is basically a two-hander with both characters playing devious and potentially murderous mind games.
“The new film had the casting quirk of Michael Caine playing Olivier’s role and Jude Law, who is making a habit of playing in Michael Caine remakes,” says Simon.
Its problem, he reckons, is that it cut out much of the reason for the pair’s strange mental conflict.
“I think you ended up with two men in a slugging match and I’m not sure who would want to see that.
“We are doing the original play. It’s confined to one set and is all going on in front of you. It’s a very clever piece of stagecraft, great entertainment, and people are amazed how much they laugh.”
Simon, 56, is married to actress Susan George and they run a stud farm with more than 55 horses near Exmoor in Devon. They also have a production company which develops ideas.
His award-winning career before Casualty included Jesus Of Nazareth, I Claudius, Death On The Nile, and Dynasty.