"Stoppard’s surreal detective double bill"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 16/03/17

Celebrated and talented Portsmouth based theatre company HumDrum are currently performing a pair of Tom Stoppard’s famous one act comedies, the lesser-known “After Magritte” and the much-loved “The Real Inspector Hound”.

Czechoslovakian born Tom Stoppard moved to England after the Second World War first becoming a journalist, followed by theatre critic and later wrote radio and television plays. He was knighted in 1997.

The brief comedy “After Magritte”, inspired by the surreal paintings of Rene Magritte is set in a cluttered living room and opens with an unconventional setting. An elderly lady is lying prostrate on an ironing board, Reginald, clad in waders, is trying to change a light bulb and his wife is seen crawling around the floor collecting spent shot to lob into the waste paper basket, all the while being watched by a policeman through the window! Such strange behaviour leads him to call in his Inspector who then challenges the household member’s recollection of what they saw earlier in the day. Could they be guilty of the Crippled Minstrel Caper?
Sam Sampson (Reginald Harris) and Sean Fisher (Inspector Foot) both give fine performances in Stoppard’s highly bizarre musings that explore perception and reality.
“The Real Inspector Hound” follows and is also a detective parody blurring the lines between the cast, the critics and the audience. A complex and cleverly written spoof where nobody is quite who they claim to be. Commencing in the theatre, two critics are about to review a new murder mystery play but as they chat away about their personal lives to each other matters on stage lead first one and then the other critic to be drawn on stage and face genuine danger.

The critics Moon (Tim Sturton-Davies) and Birdboot (Darren Gilmore) are brilliantly represented. Gilmore’s flamboyant entrance, penchant for Quality Street and “the ladies” make his lively character the perfect foil for Sturton-Davies’ more subdued and reserved disposition. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had too from Emma Wells’ portrayal of the feisty and spirited Felicity Cunningham and Michael Gondelle’s furtive lothario Simon Gascoyne. Jeanette Broad embraces the role of Lady Cynthia Muldoon with great enthusiasm while mention must be given to John Moore as an extremely realistic corpse and on stage throughout!

A cracking production that finds humour in the absurdity of the situations.

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