Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
CAN you figure out “whodunit”? That’s the challenge Harbour Theatre is giving audiences this May with its production of the intriguing murder-mystery Sleuth.

Written by Anthony Shaffer, it won a 1971 Tony Award for best play and was adapted by playwright Harold Pinter for a 2007 film starring Michael Caine and Jude Law, directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Award-winning director Dannielle Ashton has taken on the challenge of mounting Harbour Theatre’s stage production, embracing all aspects of what’s been described as a “flawless thriller”.

“Sleuth is one of the best plays of its genre and is extremely clever, tense and unashamedly literate,” she said.

“It’s a psychological thriller about two men engaged in a battle of wits and imagination over the love of a woman.

“There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, bound to keep everyone guessing until the very end.”

Alan Kennedy – nominated for best actor at the 2007 and 2008 Finley Awards – has been cast as successful mystery writer Andrew Wyke, teamed with Alex Jones (best actor, 2008 Finley Awards) as cash-strapped travel agent Milo Tindle.

“Andrew Wyke is one of those wonderful characters where the audience may live vicariously through him for a couple of hours while shuddering with delicious distaste at a morality perhaps less well-defined than their own,” Kennedy said.

Director Ashton adds: “Directing two actors the calibre of Alex and Alan is a sheer pleasure. The deeply complex characters are a challenge, both physically and mentally, and one that both actors meet head-on with extraordinarily fine results.”

Sleuth plays at 8pm on May 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16 with a special Mother’s Day matinee at 2pm, May 3 (including Devonshire tea at interval).

Tickets are $18, $16 concession and $13 for full-time students or children under 15. Book through BOCS on (08) 9484 1133 (booking fees apply).

Harbour Theatre is in the Princess May Building on the corner of Cantonment and Parry Streets, Fremantle (next to Clancy’s Fish Pub).

· For more information, contact Dannielle Ashton on 0400 438 695 or e-mail [email protected]

sleuth1.jpeg: Alan Kennedy stars as mystery writer Andrew Wyke in Sleuth at Harbour Theatre.

sleuth2.jpeg: Alex Jones, left, and Alan Kennedy, appearing in Sleuth from May 1.

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Harbour Theatre

In December 1963, Harbour Theatre was formed by eight enthusiastic amateurs, led by Jimmy Quinn, a very competent and experienced director. The upper floor of the Evans Davies Library in South Terrace, Fremantle (above what is now Dome) became Harbour’s first home. Conditions were very primitive at the beginning, but enthusiasm overcame all difficulties and the group expanded rapidly. By 1965, Harbour was able to present 4 full length productions a year and an Associate Membership scheme was started (and is still one of the largest memberships of Community theatre in Perth). The Mayor of Fremantle at that time, Sir Frederick Samson, was presented with the first Honorary Life Associate Membership of Harbour Theatre, which he gratefully accepted.

In 1975, the Evan Davies Library moved out and the building was scheduled for demolition to make way for a car park. Due mainly to the efforts of Harbour Theatre, The Fremantle Society, and a grant to the Fremantle City Council by the Heritage Commission, the building was saved and partially restored. At the same time, the theatre underwent a major restructuring, resulting in the stage and seating being completely changed, thus allowing for larger audiences and better facilities for the actors. The work to the theatre was due to the group's own physical labour, with funds raised by themselves and their supporters. In November 1989, Harbour Theatre performed its 100th full length production. With an Associate Membership in the hundreds (over 750 in 1995), Harbour Theatre has always been self sufficient, never having to call on Government or other funding bodies for support. But then things changed….

Unfortunately, due to commercial circumstances beyond our control, in March 1995 we were forced to find another venue at which to perform. Thus Harbour Theatre departed from the Evans Davies Building, our home for 31 years. As a temporary measure, Harbour Theatre performed at the Tivoli Theatre, in the suburb of Applecross, for about 18 months, while searching for a location back in Fremantle.

After exhausting every avenue with the Fremantle City Council for help in relocating back in Fremantle, a lease was finally arranged privately with the Fremantle Education Centre, and Harbour Theatre was able to return to Fremantle at the end of 1996. The next few weeks were very hectic as the Princess May Theatre in the Fremantle Education Centre had to be completely re-built, including the stage, seating and lighting, in time for our last play of 1996 “Table Manners”, by Alan Ayckbourn and directed by Stan Brannick.

1997 went reasonably well as Harbour Theatre settled into its new home. Unfortunately, no change is not without some consequences, with the Associate Membership dropping dramatically from 600 to 400, and a long standing and founding member, past President & Secretary, Joyce Birch, leaving the Theatre. The situation looked even gloomier the following year with the first two plays of the 1998 season cancelled due to the unfortunate withdrawal of lead actors. Harbour Theatre was on the brink of collapsing. Then came the success of the 4th play, Oscar Wilde’s “A Woman of No Importance” directed by Anne Smithdale, followed by Harbour Theatre winning the inaugural Sheila Buchanan Memorial Adjudicators Encouragement Award at the annual Independent Theatre Association (ITA) Finley Awards. The Theatre President of the time, Jo Sterkenburg, said “It was a real shot in the arm. It was nice to be recognised for overcoming adversity”.

Harbour Theatre continue to perform in the Princess May Theatre, putting on 4 full length plays and a season of 1-act plays every year. The Theatre also hosted the ITA's DramaFest, an annual competition of 1-act plays, from 1998 to 2001. In 2002 we performed our 150th full length production ("Last Of The Red Hot Lovers" directed by Stan Brannick) and in December 2003 celebrated 40 years of performing in Fremantle.
Dannielle Ashton
P: 0400 438 695


Harbour Theatre presents the intriguing murder-mystery Sleuth in Fremantle this May.


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