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Silchester Players - The Real Inspector Hound

25th to 26th April, 2nd to 3rd May 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Stoppard digs at the critics

Silchester Players: The Real Inspector Hound, at Silchester village hall, on Friday, April 25, Saturday, April 26, Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3

The play opened with a theatre critic waiting patiently for a play to start, soon to be joined by a more experienced rival with a cynical view not only of the play but of life in general.

David Bibby and Nick Lock's interaction as hapless reviewers Moon and Birdfoot was superb, each lost in their own world and carrying on completely different conversations which somehow blended together.

As the curtain rose on the drawing room of a country house, housekeeper Mrs Drudge saw the dust but no dead body on the floor. Lyn Davies looked the part and her understated humour was perfect.

The action continued apace with the arrival of the lady of the manor and her house guests. I was impressed with Hayley Fitton as Felicity, conveying her lisping youthfulness without being twee, and Darren Lerigo as the villainous Simon, but I was somewhat thrown by the appearance of Sarah Oliver as Lady Muldoon in a cocktail dress and carrying a tennis racquet.

They were later joined by the long-lost brother of Lady Muldoon's late husband, the wheelchair-bound Major Muldoon, played by Brian Gillett, who convincingly manoeuvred the wheelchair around the set.

While the play was performed, our erstwhile critics noisily discussed it - and their private lives - giving us glimpses of their review. Tom Stoppard had obviously been on the receiving end of many a critic's pen.

After about 25 minutes, the interval came too quickly for my liking and lasted too long, spoiling the continuity.

Bumbling Inspector Hound arrived and announced that a murderer was on the loose and might well strike again. He too managed to miss the vital clue of the body on the floor, which he stepped over several times before discovering. Caroline Norton must have had one of the hardest parts, on stage the whole time with not so much as a twitching finger.

That the one-liners and innuendo were delivered with impeccable timing is due, I am sure, to the hard work of producer Alan Moorhouse.

I left with the words of Birdfoot ringing in my ears "before 10.30 family entertainment, after 10.30 self indulgent". The play finished at 10pm.