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An Actor’s Nightmare by Christopher Durang, and The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard


Hampton Hill Theatre - 04 October 2018

An Actor’s Nightmare by Christopher Durang, and The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard

Just a Stage I’m Going Through


An Actor’s Nightmare by Christopher Durang, and The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard


OHADS Double Bill at Hampton Hill Theatre, until 6 October


Review by Matthew Grierson


There’s more to tonight’s double bill at Hampton Hill than simple meta-theatrical mischief.  Yes, both are plays about plays, but that was old when Hamlet did it.  More particularly, they are plays about the kind of behaviour that plays force us into, and try as he might the Dane’s Mousetrap never manages that with Claudius or Gertrude.


Just as procrastinating as the prince is the protagonist of An Actor’s Nightmare, who finds himself extemporising throughout Christopher Durang’s one-act piece, in an attempt to perform a part he has not rehearsed.  The remorselessly dreamlike logic sees the hapless George (or is it Stanley? It’s definitely not the mega-star they all expected), called out of the blue to appear in a play that some of the cast think is Coward and others Beckett, before it ends up on the executioner’s block à la Thomas More – a Bolt from the blue, you might say. 


Well, it’s all just a dream, isn’t it?


Once everyone has woken up with their interval drinks we go further behind the curtain, and in front of it, for Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound.  OHADS make good use of Stoppard’s device of critics, here Birdboot (Andy Smith) and Moon (Luke Daxon), being part of the show.  We switch between overhearing them and keeping an eye on the play they and we are watching together.  For as long as the reviewers engage in dialogue they are talking around their own preoccupations, but once they get down to taking notes they are effectively soliloquising, revealing their respective statuses as egotistical philanderer and jealous pseud. 


The action onstage meanwhile unfolds with gleeful over-explanation, making the machinations at Muldoon Manor seem much more straightforward than the reviewers’ hyperbolic reaction to it.  As in Nightmare the cast have a game old time, and on this occasion the interlopers seem more than capable of keeping pace with them in sending up the Christie clichés.  Indeed, it is Birdboot’s fondness for hackneyed turns of phrase, not to mention himself, that means he is first to cross the fourth wall to assume the role of bounder, recently vacated by the murdered Simon Gascoyne (Matt O’Toole) … … …


Read Matthew Grierson’s full review at www.markaspen.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/hound


Photography by Raymond Wheatan

An Actor’s Nightmare by Christopher Durang, and

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