Review: KCAT kills with Hound! (guest blogger)
This review is by guest blogger timlovestheatre as we are currently experiencing technical difficulties posting it on KC Stage.
The Real Inspector Hound, produced by Kansas City Actors Theatre
What happens when a second string magazine theatre reviewer attends a show that is ABOUT a second string theatre reviewer attending a ridiculous whodunit murder mystery? It seems to me the only logical thing that could happen is that there is a tremendous comic book style noise like “Twang” or “Th-rap” and the very universe itself begins to unravel like a poorly made sweater. Gravity shifts, seas move, and mountain ranges collapse crushing the surrounding plains and lava begins to seep up from under the broken continental plates to destroy cities, towns, highways, and airports.
But, wait, what’s that Tom Stoppard, playwright? The Real Inspector Hound is not about a theatre critic? “The one thing that The Real Inspector Hound isn’t about, as far as I’m concerned, is theatre critics. I originally conceived a play, exactly the same play, with simply two members of an audience getting involved in the play-within-the-play. But when it comes to actually writing something down which has integral entertainment value, if you like, it very quickly turned out that it would be a lot easier to do it with critics, because you’ve got something known and defined to parody. So it was never a play about drama critics. If one wishes to say that it is a play about something more than that, then it’s about the dangers of wish-fulfillment. But as soon as the words out of my mouth, I think, shit, it’s a play about these two guys, and they’re going along to this play, and the whole thing is tragic and hilarious, and very, very carefully constructed.” (Tom Stoppard, Tom Stoppard in Conversation)
Oh, so no worries. That Mayan calendar thing not withstanding it seems our oceans, airports, and mountain ranges are safe. So what is The Real Inspector Hound about? It’s about poking fun at the convention of the thriller whodunit mystery, playing with the principles of theatre and yes, making fun of arts critics. Kansas City Actors Theatre has made a brilliant selection for their Summer of Mystery, by having Hound follow directly on the heels of their production of Mousetrap as at its heart this show is a send-up of the Christie classic. The cast is mostly the same in both shows (with the notable addition of Melinda McCrary and the notable subtraction of Peggy Friesen) and it seems the Mousetrap set was smartly re-purposed as well.
The show features some great performances from Gary Neal Johnson and Victor Raider-Wexler as the theatre critics Moon and Birdboot. Although the show might not be ABOUT them as critics, it is their characters that drive the show. Each man played his role with relish and nuance. Not hard to do considering some of the lines supplied by Stoppard.
Emily Peterson as ingénue Felicity Cunningham and Natalie Liccardello as lady of the house Cythina Muldoon were extremely lovely and vastly proficient in distributing the highly stylized cheesiness of the play within the play. Matt Weiss as Simon Gascoyne provides a good dash of maniac energy and ample amount of charm. Charles Fugate as Major Magnus Muldoon seems to be having a great time chewing up the scenery and Rusty Sneary as Inspector Hound provides a character that makes one wish the Inspector had more to do. Melinda McCrary as the domestic Mrs. Drudge upped the absurdity of the show and carried off her role with just a touch of hilarious exasperation.
The Mayan calendar says we only have 104 days left and summer has only fifteen days remaining, but most importantly there are only about 6 days left to be a part of the “Summer of Mystery!” Kansas City Actors Theatre presents The Real Inspector Hound at the City Stage in Union Station through September 14th. For more information, visit www.kcactors.org.