For those who want more than homogenized entertainment, King's Jester Dinner Theater in Silver Spring has the answer with its current show, "Sleuth." It is a first-rate play, compelling even if one has seen the movie version, and doubly gripping if one has not. The King's Jester cast turns in a fine performance which, despite a few flaws, keeps the audience intensely involved to the end.
Leads Joshua Billings and Richard Rohan play exceptionally well off each other, generating plenty of heat in their respective roles as the landed gentlemen and the first generation commercial upstart. Sometimes the pace seems almost too fast; a little more space occasionally might deepen the intensity of the emotions seething under the byplay. Rohan's deft second act characterization and Billings' portrayal of a gentleman's breakdown were two high points of the evening.
As in many modern British plays, the central conflict in "Sleuth" is social, and accents, because they are indicative of class, become crucial. When they remembered their British accents, Billings and Rohan sounded too much alike, taking the edge off some of their exchanges. Particularly in the early stages, they seemed merely two men in conflict rather than two British worlds in collision.
Preceeding the play is a delicious buffet that reflects the well-seasoned touch of chef David Yeger. Dinner seating is comfortable with plenty of room between tables, and the service is friendly. The play takes place in a nearby room which offers a pleasant change of pace.
"Sleuth" runs through Feb. 16. For reservations and information call 946-0722.