The Real Inspector Hound (1975)
by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Malcolm Saunders
The action takes place in a theatre. Two critics go to see a thriller in which they become involved.
- Moon - Terry Barden
- Birdboot - John Davies
- Mrs Drudge - Valerie Westbey
- Simon - John Kennedy
- Felicity - Lynfa Moses
- Cynthia - Ruth Shettle
- Magnus - Donald North
- Inspector Hound - Bernie Bullbrook
- Assistant Director - Deirdre Shaw
- Stage Manager - Jonathan Taylor
- Assisted by - Jackie Wilson, Margery Stead, Maggie Livesey
- Lighting Design - Colin Stokes
- Lighting Operator - Neil Franklin
- Sound - Brian Playford
- Set Construction - Donald North
- Box Office - Frank Howcutt
- Front of House - Helen Boutall
"Two critics and a tiger"
Not content with 12 full productions for the 1974/75 season, the SLTC last week made it a baker's dozen by squeezing in two performances of Tom Stoppard's "The Real Inspector Hound", a short play with enough will and vigour for two full-length comedies from a less resourceful pen.
Pirandello is the name most famously associated with the idea of setting off stage reality against external reality. Stoppard, pursuing it in light-hearted vein, has hit on the device of involving two critics, Moon the eternal deputy and his vain friend Birdboot, in the play they are supposed to be assessing. But they find they have a tiger by the tail, and I must take their lesson to heart whenever I find myself tempted to o'erleap the footlights to influence the course of events.
Malcolm Saunders' production sited the critics up-stage, facing the auditorium, with the painted figures of their own fellow on-lookers behind them, like those immobile crowd scenes of early cartoons. Thus they were seeing the action back to front, since the characters were playing to us and not them, with the furniture arranged accordingly.
The production nicely caught the play's vein of double parody, in which words usually italicised as stage directions become actual dialogue, and critical comments are submerged in hectic actions.
Terry Barden (Moon) and John Davies (Birdboot) conducted their exchanges with lively wit, and Ruth Shettle gave a pleasing display of ham acting as the outrageous Lady Cynthia. As Mrs Drudge, Valerie Westbey was alert to the comic nuances, while John Kennedy padded suspiciously about in the dubious role of Simon.
Bernie Bullbrook, SLTC's statutory policeman, was a dogged Inspector Hound, though, as it happened, not the real one. That distinction was left to Donald North, the "crippled" Magnus who suddenly throws off his disguise and stands revealed as the eponymous hero.
Other parts were played by Lynfa Moses and Chris Pegrum, the latter as an admirably inert corpse. But at least the production didn't die the death.
Donald Madgwick, in The Croydon Advertiser.
Reminiscences and Anecdotes
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