The Real Inspector Hound/The Critic, Minerva Theatre, Chichester
Wednesday 14 July 2010
This pairing of one-act plays about the vicarious participation of critics in the theatre business was last seen on the vast Olivier stage 25 years ago; it works much better in the compact Minerva, though Jonathan Church and Sean Foley's joint production seems over-anxious to be funny.
One consequence of this is that Foley, for instance, who plays a wheelchair-bound major in Stoppard's country-house thriller spoof, and a poodle-wigged ninny, Sir Fretful Plagiary, in the Sheridan fracas, is sometimes registering a reaction before he's received the prompt for it.
But he does, at least, make a sly connection between the plays that has not been made before: "trim-buttocked" is a gloating epithet dispensed by the critics in The Real Inspector Hound; Foley can be so described when Sir Fretful's cloak slips beneath waist level in The Critic's patriotic pageant.
Mooning in Chichester: whatever next? Both plays satirise theatrical mannerisms of the day in a "play-within-a-play". Mr Puff's "catastrophe" is a fantasy staging of the Spanish Armada, with designer Ruari Murchison creating a mini-fleet of galleons sailing up the Thames, Britannia ruling the waves in a steel helmet and one poor critic, Derek Griffiths's supercilious Sneer, suspended on top of the world while the scenery collapses.
The critics are drawn into action more subtly in the Stoppard, Nicholas Le Prevost's smoothie-chops Birdboot picking up a telephone on the set ("I told you never to ring me at work") and Richard McCabe's chaotically untidy, second-string Moon, assuming a leading role soon afterwards.
Le Prevost doubles in the Sheridan as Dangle, reading news of an imminent coalition, and the last government's failures, before declaring an interest only in theatrical politics. McCabe's critic with an arthritic walk unbends magnificently as the irrepressible Puff, listing his varieties of "puff" like an embryonic, much wittier, Max Clifford.
The Stoppard spoof is ferociously well done by Joe Dixon, Sophie Bould and Hermione Gulliford, with Una Stubbs delightful in both plays, first as Mrs Drudge then as a bird-brained Mrs Dangle in Sheridan's satirical attack on a long-forgotten, ineffective foreign policy.
To 28 August (01243 781312)
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians