A Review by Anina-Marie
Villanova Players’ production of The Real Inspector Hound was a rapturous, stimulating romp from beginning to end. An undeniably funny, talented cast presented an exhilarating plot with gusto. The audience was enthralled on the edge of their seats right until the cathartic resolution.
Filled with multiple plot twists and culminating in an ultimate revelation that not even the most perceptive of detectives could see coming, Tom Stoppard’s short, one-act play is witty, surprising and hilarious. Two theatre critics attend a ludicrous play centred on a murder mystery in a country manor when, by chance, they become embroiled in the action they are watching. Written between 1961 and 1962, Stoppard’s work draws on his own experiences as a theatre critic and parodies stereotypical murder mysteries in the style of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
Villanova Players’ rendition of The Real Inspector Hound performed at The Ron Hurley Theatre in Seven Hills was set simply on a two-tiered stage featuring a raised platform of bright green theatre seats overlooking the country manor. This design was a very excellent way to set up the world of the show; heightening the triple layered meaning – the audience watching a show about two critics watching a show. The stage and set design is supported by simple yet effective Lighting and Sound Design from Rod Thompson and Luke Mounsour; providing the perfect backdrop for the action to unfold unimpeded.
The Direction by Trevor Bond was fantastic. Trevor’s vision for delivering a short, sharp and snappy show really paid off. The blocking was quick, smart and clever; moving the action along brilliantly with never a dull moment. Trevor’s work with the actors resulted in a performance underpinned by clear motivations that draws the audience in from the get go. Like the action on the stage, the transitions were smooth and quick; building a clever momentum that served the work well.
The cast of just nine excellent actors were absolutely phenomenal in this production. These performers delivered a show that was flawless and should all be highly commended for their work. Bravo!
Luke Monsour was the perfect casting choice for the role of Moon. An outstanding actor who portrayed the slightly unhinged, jealous character with precision. As Birdboot, Patrick Leo was equally divine. He played the whimsical, womanising role with a believable authenticity. Together Luke and Patrick establish the world of the show and then tear it down again. A dynamic duo with impeccable comedic timing and chemistry.
Desley Nichols’ Mrs Drudge was absolutely hilarious. Desley established herself in this production as a most talented performer who played wonderfully with her face. The pompous, proud Simon Gascoyne was expertly portrayed by actor Oscar Kennedy-Smith. Oscar’s performance was crisp, precise and enjoyable.
Lillian Dowdell and Steff King performed the roles of Felicity Cunningham and Lady Cynthia respectively. Lillian’s Felicity was a standout of the show with her hilarious melodramatic antics. Steff’s Cynthia was equally stunning, delivering some of the best comedic moments of the show.
Blaise Ahern was the ultimate choice for the role of Major Magnus Muldoon. Blaise managed to deliver one of the key plot twists of the show with divine perfection. Blaise is an excellent actor whose skill shone bright throughout The Real Inspector Hound.
As Inspector Hound, John Evans was side-splittingly funny; delivering an unforgettable performance with wacky facial expressions. Yet despite the archetypical nature of the character, John’s acting created something believable and authentic.
Last but certainly not least, this review would not be complete without giving credit to the amazing Nikolai Stewart who made a very special appearance in this show as The Body. Nikolai had no action and no lines, but portrayed a very believable corpse. Well done!
Villanova Players has been around since 1948 and have certainly established themselves as a key player in the Brisbane community theatre scene. And with absolutely stunning productions like The Real Inspector Hound it is not hard to see why. This show was pure perfection from beginning to end. Bravo!