Reviewer: Celia Musikanth
Tom Stoppard (who is considered by many to be one of Britain’s greatest living playwrights) wrote, among many other plays, the celebrated “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”
“The Real Inspector Hound” is set in a theatre where the set is a theatre with a play about to be performed therefore it is “a play within a play”. Two reviewers make their entrance and sit upstage on theatre chairs to watch the performance which takes place on the stage with the performers facing the audience. This leads me to beg the question – where was the audience? There was a handful of people attending this show – a comedy – which needs reaction – what happened? A Saturday night, a 6.30pm performance,. – I was so sad to see this.
Back to the play………This is a short one-act play which follows two theatre critics named Moon and Birdboot who are watching a ludicrous setup of a country house murder mystery in the style of a whodunit. The critics watched the play, with their personal desires and obsessions being interwoven into their bombastic and pompous reviews. I enjoyed the critics’ performances, each one an antithesis of the other. Daniel Enticott as Birdboot was convincing and his timing was spot on. Stephan Fourie (who had me fooled in the foyer by asking me if I was also reviewing the play) played a camp reviewer with a real concern that he was a “substitute” reviewer – this resonated well with me because so was I! The contrast in their performances, when they became enveloped into the actual play, was good.
The script is intelligent and I loved the writing – especially the fact that Stoppard has written that Mrs Drudge, the gloomy housekeeper (played by Barbara Basel) introduces the scenes with character descriptions when the telephone rings. The sound effects which often came after the event (deliberately), were hilarious. Personally I would have liked to have more atmospheric effects (although the scary baying of a hound worked well).
Raine Waring, Kirsty Williams, Thom von Zahn all played their over-the-top characters with enjoyment and Gary Green as the “real” Inspector Hound was excellent – I am sorry that his part was so short. Graham Ellis with his ridiculous (deliberate?) beard was convincing in his performance of Major Muldoon (who had a penchant for wanting to oil his gun). A quibble – why have an interval for such a short show?
Go along to the Masque for one of the final four performances – enjoy the witty script, and then go out for dinner – you will have time.