Skip to main content

Review of Mindgame by Masque Theatre at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

After clocking up over two hundred and fifty theatre reviews in less than three years, I nonchalantly thought that any show I have thrown at me, I can confidently cover. That was before I went to see Masque Theatre's production of the Anthony Horowitz play Mindgame last evening. A cast of three weave you into a mysterious web, where absolutely nothing is what it seems and leaves a terrified reviewer the prospect of trying not to reveal those weaves. I am of course bold and brave(ish) though, so this will not trouble me. Too much.

First performed in 1999, Mindgame sees true crime writer Mark Styler (William Portch) arrive at the optimistically named mental institution Fairfields. His target is to meet, interview, profile, and tell the life story of inmate Easterman, a notorious serial killer. In charge at the hospital is Dr. Farquhar (Vince Perry), a bold presence, but surprisingly confused character to be in charge of such important patients. Completing our cast of characters is the nervy Nurse Paisley (Gemma Knight), for medical and tea providing duties.

That pretty much is all it would be fair to reveal regarding this quite ingenious play, as it twists and turns leaving the audience unsure, sure, unsure, certain and then perhaps bewildered before an ending perhaps almost on a par with films like The Sixth Sense and one that leaves you totally satisfied, but maybe unsure?

The cast of three are all superb and create completely convincing characters. Portch is excellent as Styler, portraying the confidence that the ambitious writer needs, yet also willing to go along with the more foolish whims of Farquhar. Horowitz makes the character deliberately slow at times, to allow the audience to be one step ahead of him.

I really liked Perry as Farquhar, really strong in both character and demeanour, but with a lightness of touch that makes the comic moments more funny than you feel they should be. However that is the point of this play, as there is a lot of uncomfortable humour, but you should (and do) laugh despite yourself.

Finally, we have Gemma Knight, who harks wonderfully back to the very first Masque I saw, No Way Out. Again she is excellent as Nurse Paisley, all twitchy and desperate to reveal some mystery, and laying on the comic side glances with relish. Without question, she throws herself fully into the role.

As well as the cast, there is quite a bit of life in Dr Farquhar's office set. To reveal exactly what happens would be unnecessary, however nothing is what it seems, and both stage manager Jo Molyneux and assistant Ed Toone, as well as tech man Philip Welsh need to be congratulated on this one, in their adding of the fourth character in this play.

Director Pat Bancroft keeps a tight reign on proceedings, making sure the action stays flowing with no extraneous moments to distract. This all allows the play to be a breeze to follow, and is just the way I personally like my theatre viewing to be.

So, a fascinating and thought-provoking play which has at its core some really funny moments, and more than a hint of politics about it. A superb cast easily create one of my favourite Masque productions so far. Quite brilliantly dark and delightful.

Performance reviewed: Thursday 20th October, 2016 at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton. 
Mindgame runs until Saturday 22nd October, 2016 at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton.

Details can be found at http://www.masquetheatre.co.uk/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Flashdance - The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

For the second week running, the Milton Keynes Theatre is overrun by a wave of eighties nostalgia as Selladoor's production of Flashdance The Musical follows hot on the heels of An Officer and a Gentlemen. However, is it nice to have more of that classic decade upon the stage? The answer mostly is yes, despite the fact that the story driving Flashdance is that light and flimsy at times, you just have to sit back and watch the dancing and the bright colours to get you through.

Welding genius, Alex Owens, has her sights set for a bigger thing beyond this tired and struggling factory in Pittsburgh.  Hoping to take her dancing beyond Harry's bar, she plans to make big, via Shipley Dance Academy.  Then, also drifting into her life comes Nick Hurley, who initially unknown to her, happens to be the factory bosses son, the scene is set for romance.

Flashdance has a generally excellent cast led with a tremendously good performance from Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens. Those familiar with …

Review of Bugsy Malone (Clyde Company) at The Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Last night I was back at Royal & Derngate to see the Youth Theatre/Young Company production of Bugsy Malone, this time seeing the almost completely different cast of Clyde Company. This second evening of the show had the fortune of running much smoother, with less of the technical issues that had beset the previous evening and restricted the success of some of the scenes.

It was most apparent in the Fat Sam's Grand Slam scene, which became a greater hive of activity, with a full dance routine taking place, which unfortunately hadn't happened the previous night. Leading this scene was a full-on performance from Morgan Charles as Tullulah, exhibiting the vocal talent, and most especially the dance skills she had shown in last years Fame.

In the lead for this second company, and taking a much different approach to the role, was Nathan Stroud. Here we had a more mature Bugsy, not just in age, but in personality. The slightly more serious style worked excellently alongside a st…

Review of The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

During the interval of The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, last weeks production at The Playhouse Theatre Northampton, I got involved in a conversation between a couple sitting next to me. The lady was very much of the opinion that the play was a comedy, while the gentleman, had formed one that it was a tragedy. They were joking of course in the conversation, but it did highlight the differences that Debbie Isitt's dark comedy might have between the sexes. And also now perhaps the passing of time. When this was written in the nineties, Isitt's play was a forthright feminist play, heralding the championing over of the ladies over the man. One the ex-wife plotting to cook him, the other, the new lover, potentially already very tired of him after just three years.

The husband, Kenneth (Jem Clack) elopes initially in pursuit of sex with Laura (Diane Wyman), after his nineteen years of marriage with Hilary (Corinna Leeder) has become tired and passionless. Then later, he elopes secr…