Dial “M” for Melodrama

It felt somewhat ironic to be reviewing Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Inspector Hound,” at Royal Holloway for it is a comedy that focuses upon, and mocks two upper-class, guffawing critics of whom actually end up participating within the show they are reviewing. Luckily and thankfully, I remained within the audience for its entirety. Irony aside, the play was shown in Jane Holloway Hall from 29th until the 31st October and was very well-received by its audience, who could be heard laughing and sniggering throughout the production.

The show was good fun: it was light-hearted entertainment that used the genre of murder mystery within its parodied borders. The show acknowledged itself as a play with metatheatrical elements: it constituted a play within a play. This tool, with the potential to convolute the narrative, was presented in a clear, fluid manner which every audience member could follow. As the fourth wall was broken fairly early on, the discourse of the play felt like a somewhat personal commitment from the audience’s perspective: who was the killer?

Suffice to say, the director: Callum McCartney, capitalised on all comedic moments, with all actors characterising melodrama and realising the humour throughout its presentation. An example of this would be the recurring gags of Mrs Drudge’s (Madi Gianfrancesco) histrionic representation of “the fog” as a sinister, murderous presence, with brilliantly emphasised facial expressions; or the reminder for Cynthia (Orla Sullivan) of her being shaken and reminded of her partner’s passing: the gag pervades every over-used cliché in melodrama and beyond, assisting the play with its satirical charm. The character of Simon (Ollie Clark) was wonderfully awkward and really assisted with the waggish tone that is the epicentre of the piece. The critics (Charlie Pullan and Josh Buckland) were also gloriously snobbish, a predication of the flamboyant expenditure of the upper class. Intonation and pace were presented well by all of the actors, with interjections timed perfectly with each other.

Equivocally, there was a green light centred on the stage. Potentially alluding to a warm wash, it appeared more as a glow that turned some actors in its path, and in particular, their white shirts green. However, technical elements are notably limited in the venue of Jane Holloway Hall, and it took nothing away from the play itself.

All in all: a brilliantly fun production that was directed fluidly, and that displayed the gifts of an exceptionally talented cast!