Monday, February 11, 2008

REV: The Real Inspector Hound

i made another trek to Austin to check out a second play this season by the Transit Theatre Company, something of a fly by night group at St. Edward's Univrsity. Yesterday they put on Tom Stoppard's amazingly convoluted and hilarious The Real Inspector Hound -- a sendup, and then some, of classic whodunits.

The piece featured a number of St. Ed's talented theatre students, including the wonderful Miss Annie Bond, who by way of disclaimer i have something of an ancient connection to and who was my primary purpose for attending. Which is not to say that's all i went for. Having seen this group do Ionesco's Rhinceros earlier this winter, i had some idea what i was getting myself into. It was directed by Zach Petticord, and wonderfully so.

This play was presented in four locations on four days which made finding it perhaps an unintended whodunit also. Played behind a string of moveable curtains, they did a wonderful job of creating a closed scenic wherein most of the action takes place. The initial device was to send in two second rate critics to write reviews. The two spent more time indulging the audience with their own personal fantasies -- one for taking the job of his higher-up, the other making hay with actresses by reviewing them in ways that don't always match their performances.

Enter the usual crew of uppity snobs sleeping around with unknowns, the maid who sees everything and says little, and uncertainty about who has disappeared exactly and when, and bombard us with overplayed devices (radio announcements of impending doom, card games no one understands, and deus ex machina phone calls) and you really have no idea where this is headed.

Then turn the tables by introducing one of the critics into the plot while beginning portions of the play over and you have another viewpoint of who might be the whodoer. Even if i were to try to unscramble the ending for you i'm not sure it would be a spoiler. The fun was in the journey, the sendup of every conceivable convention, and the sheer ridiculousness of the ending itself.

And of course, the company's slew of wonderful actors, each perfectly wielding their lines and characters have to be congratulated: Annie Bond, Roy Varney, Valerie Lara, Hans Hlein, Zach Petticord, Elizabeth Shortall, Nicholas Campagna, with Ev Lunning Jr as the radio voice, and the side-splitting pair of Kel Sanders and Elliott Dooley as the critics.

There's still a couple of chances left to see it:
Monday-02/11-In the Apartment Clubhouse @ 6pm FREE SPAGHETTI DINNER
Tuesday-02/12-In Teresa Hall @ 7pm

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