The Real Inspector Hound @ The New Theatre

As the spring season returns after its Easter hiatus, The Real Inspector Hound graces the New Theatre stage. This play is an incredibly entertaining foray into the world of the amateur whodunit and snobbish theatre critics, but one that left this critic strangely unsatisfied.

The play, a play within a play, follows two theatre critics, Moon and Birdboot, as they arrive at the Royal Theatre to watch a murder mystery. As the play progresses, we find the line between the reality of the critics and the play they are watching, blurred. Cue hilarity, as the blurb so accurately states.

Oliver Margolis, at the helm of a production for the first time, has brought out an assured and intelligent performance from his actors. His perhaps inevitable decision to have his cast “ham it up”, as is the expression, works sublimely well, indeed Stoppard’s text calls out for such treatment. The audience was quite literally rolling in their seats with laughter such was the perfection attained by the cast in both timing and delivery. Enunciation was, at times, a slight issue, a small blip on an otherwise faultless cast.

I cannot heap enough praise on the technical side of this production. A set of ambitious proportions rarely seen on the New Theatre stage, creates the space for the action to unfurl. If nothing else, a trip to see this play is worth it for the mere sight of such a feat of technical dexterity and artistic flair. This is complemented by an extraordinary and subtle lighting and sound design, which is used to great comedic effect throughout the play.

Yet despite my praise for the obvious merits of this cast’s dedication and hard work, I could not help feeling like something was missing. The play seemed to want to speak deeply and profoundly on theatre, it’s silly conventions, it’s preconceived notions of genre, it’s pompous critics, even its theatricality. Stoppard’s text has always been renowned for its depth and intelligence; somehow this wasn’t conveyed in the performance. It became a riotously entertaining hour of ideas presented shallowly.

Over all, an enjoyable performance, one that without a doubt entertains. The sincere congratulations go out to Oliver and his team for bringing to stage this outstanding play.

But then again, this is merely the opinion of this reviewer.

By Cesar Teixeira

ArtsArts ReviewsLead Articles
9 Comments on this post.
  • Natalie Elizabeth Bullsh*t
    6 May 2010 at 20:41
    Leave a Reply

    When reviewing a play, the author of the review should make quite clear that it is merely an opinion. There is too much risk that the readership will mistake what is said and think it fact.

    To combat this I have thought of a brilliant new way to nullify this issue: at the bottom of each article the author should explicitly state that is merely the opini…

    Oh wait, no, you’ve already done it.

  • Anon
    8 May 2010 at 12:51
    Leave a Reply

    Don’t understand the set as being of ambition “rarely seen” on the NT stage? Don’t get me wrong, I thought the set was incredible but the comment doesn’t do justice to a lot of the other incredible sets we’ve seen this year: Earnest, Rhinoceros, Winterling, Road, Ghetto and Country to name a few.

  • Faith ‘what’s my real name again?’ Oyegun
    8 May 2010 at 19:42
    Leave a Reply

    “The sincere congratulations go out to Oliver and his team for bringing to stage this outstanding play.”

    Maybe think about proofreading your ‘opinion’ before you post it.

    “Stoppard’s text has always been renowned for its depth and intelligence…”

    Stoppard wrote this when he was 25 as a piss-take of the cosy mysteries of Doyle and Christie. I don’t think it can be renowned for its ‘depth.’
    He wanted to ‘take the piss,’ he took the piss and, as you said, ‘we were rolling in our seats,’ although I prefer to roll on the floor.
    I don’t think we should be belittling Oli’s great work just because you want sate your own appetite for theatrical pretensions and I certainly would be not be so insulting as to call his production ‘shallow’ because of it.

  • NewTheatre-ite
    9 May 2010 at 16:37
    Leave a Reply

    I apologize for stating the obvious, that this is merely my opinion. I felt it was necessary after the many heated exchanges that have happened as a result of past NT reviews. I don’t claim to know more or be more correct than anyone else, I love theatre, and defend the need for reviews.

    Rarely yes. This set is quite easily, once again in my opinion, the most ambitious and artistically interesting sets i’ve seen this year. I didn’t say the other weren’t, only that this one is of particular note. Rarely vs. Never. In fact why would I when i helped build Ghetto, and have the greatest admiring, friendship and respect for the people involved in all the plays you mentioned.

    Proofreading? Oh I apologize for the mistake. Happens though. And yes, over the years this play has been analyzed over and over, and so many are of the opinion that it is a very profound and thought provoking play. Having watched another performance of it years ago, one that dealt with the text quite differently, I wished to talk about what I saw on that stage. I did not wish to belittle anyone’s work. I know what a challenge it is to bring something to the stage. It is only an analysis of the performance, not canon.

    Cesar Teixeira

  • subjective spectator
    9 May 2010 at 17:28
    Leave a Reply

    Although I feel that you have difficulty in making your point at times, it’s gratifying to read a review which comes across as considered and honest. And so it should always be.

  • Pro my Crastinate
    9 May 2010 at 19:34
    Leave a Reply

    When is the New Theatre going to stop reviewing itself from within and get someone unattached from Impact to do weekly reviews? For me it just smacks of the cliqueyness for which the institution is now known and does no favours to the hard-working actors and directors who, whether producing ‘good’ or ‘bad’ work, always show huge commitment and creativity.

    I will not grudge any person their opinion of a play, but when reviews come from outside of the theatre, whatever the quality, for me it is always far more refreshing.

    So yes, incoming Impact team of next year – a dedicated campus arts editor/New Theatre reviewer would be fab. And less poor articles overly-milking the self-referential student experience.

  • andy
    11 May 2010 at 02:50
    Leave a Reply

    “So yes, incoming Impact team of next year – a dedicated campus arts editor/New Theatre reviewer would be fab. And less poor articles overly-milking the self-referential student experience.”

    Pro my Crastinate speaks the truth.

    However, having said that, I also think it is very nearly impossible. Over my three years in NT I am not sure there has ever been a consistent reviewer for impact who did not, at the very least, have some form of connection to NT. I hate to say as well that, despite the obvious pitfalls of a reviewer from within reviewing his friends (and in one or two suspect cases, housemates) productions, the writers from within generally provide better (if sometimes stupidly biased) reviews. They are interesting, always comical (usually due to the bias) and most importantly longer than a synopsis.

    Anyway, I heartily agree that Impact should definitely go searching for a dedicated reviewer who does not have overbearing connections to NT. But I also think Cesar is doing quite a good job of removing his personal feelings from his reviews despite his, now trademark, disclaimer that closes all his reviews. Having seen the comments left for some shows and reviewers on here (usually pretty fairly to be honest) , I don’t begrudge him his ‘opinion’ comments.

  • Mandy AcNamee
    23 May 2010 at 02:46
    Leave a Reply

    This comment was removed due to its offensive content.

  • Mick Nedhurst
    24 May 2010 at 17:38
    Leave a Reply

    You need to get out more Nick

  • Leave a Reply