Review: The Real Inspector Hound

Joe and Heather in EUTC's The Real Inspector Hound. Pic: Comp
Joe and Heather in EUTC's The Real Inspector Hound. Pic: Comp
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EVERYONE’S a critic, aren’t they? Who hasn’t sat in the audience watching a mundane theatre performance and wished they could march onto the stage to give someone a slap, kiss the leading lady (or man), or act out what should really be taking place?

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Critics Moon and Birdboot sure have. And that’s what makes Tom Stoppard’s one-act, play-within-a-play such a refreshing slice of ideal wish-fulfillment - it breaks the fourth wall brilliantly, forcing life to imitate art and vice versa.

Here, the pretentious Moon (a lowly writer with ideas above his station) and overly-opinionated Birdboot (a tabloid hack who uses his position for his own sleazy ends) are stuck having to review yet another bland country-manor whodunnit.

It all gets too much for them, and by the end they, too, get sucked into the story, doomed to end up the way many theatre companies would like to see their critics – dead on the floor.

Produced by Edinburgh University Theatre Company, it’s hard to tell whether the fast pace – this 80-minute play comes in at just over an hour - and the players’ over-acting is deliberate or not.

The effete, snobbish accents of the critics can be a bit difficult to decipher, too, and there’s a tendency to shout. A LOT!

But this is student theatre after all, and the zany antics will give their peers plenty of laughs. The actors aren’t exactly short on confidence, so don’t expect any clunky acting of the sixth-form variety. However, given the right vehicle and the right direction, this eight-strong cast could flower.

Written in 1968, not a lot has changed where Stoppard’s critics are concerned. Theatre’s butchers-with-pens still have a deep sense of their own self-importance, and they still maintain that their opinion is the one that counts. You, however, can make up your own mind.

It’s also worth noting that the Bedlam theatre at this time of year is freezing cold, so wrap up warm.

That’s not a criticism by the way - it’s warm advice.

Run ends tonight