The Real Inspector Hound:
A Murderous Comedy

By Tom Stoppard

Moon and Birdboot

Esdecy Arts and Presentation House/ On-the-House Co-Production

Director: John Paterson Set design: Vivien Nishi Lighting design: Michael Sriven Costume design: Moira Fentum Window Artist: Jamie MacDonald Stage Manager: Kirsti Mikoda

Venue: Presentation House
Dates:10 - 25 January 2003

Reviewer: Jane Penistan

To Tom Stoppard nothing is sacred. Theatre critics and "whodunnits" are fair game for his sending up. And send them up he does!
With The Real Inspector Hound, John Paterson and his cast and crew enjoy themselves and entertain the audience enormously in this ingenious hour and half's joke. The pretentiousness of the English theatre critics and the overacted country house mystery drama are deliciously presented here for a Canadian audience. The very Englishness of this play does not escape the director's wit in this fine production.

Vivien Nishi's clever set provides the requisite multiple entrances, decorated with stained glass windows, yet leaving the actors plenty of playing space and room to negotiate or move the suitably tatty furniture. The costumes are outrageous, drab, or just plain ordinary, but are appropriate and enhancing to the characters. The sound and light designers also enter into the success of this hugely funny presentation with their ingenious use of their specialized technology.

As the critics, Moon and Birdboot, David C. Jones and Tristram Ham, after an opportunity to show off their knowledge and taste in theatre in general and bafflement at the solution to this mystery, find themselves drawn into the onstage action, with much bewilderment, after the mysterious shooting of Simon (Jesse Clark) and the incredible Inspector Hound (Peter Abrams).

As Mrs Drudge, Leanne Koehn displays an acute sense of timing and characterization. Her attitude to the lady of the manor (Eden Parker) and her disdain for the visiting tennis-playing friend Felicity (Denise Jones), are delightful, as is her skill (?) at taking telephone messages. As Magnus, Jeffrey Leagh Fisher is a formidable ex-commando, still armed to the teeth, even in his precisely steered wheel chair.

And don't forget the body by the wall (Michael Berdan), which remains present throughout the play. Of course, there's a surprise solution to the mystery, but to enjoy the unsuspected final jest, go and see The Real Inspector Hound and laugh yourself to aching point. It's worth it.

The Real Inspector Hound runs Tuesday through Sunday, 9 - 25 January 2003 at 20.00 at Presentation House, 333 Chesterfield Avenue, North Vancouver. Tickets $15 adults/$11 seniors, students, available at the door or by reservation at 604.990.3474.

2003, Jane Penistan