(Cover Photo: Chris Lockheardt and Andrew Harrington stand behind Kyla Begle in a scene from "THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND" by Tom Stoppard, now playing at the Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through April 2, 2023. Photo Courtesy of Shawn Cannon)
By Kevin T. Baldwin
“I have been leading a double life - at least!”
- Tom Stoppard
Written by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Maren Caulfield
Stage Manager Adam Conn
Produced by Meredith Brummer
Cast Includes: Chris Lockheardt – Moon; Andrew Harrington – Birdboot; Erin Shine - Mrs. Drudge; Simon Jensen-Fellows – Simon; Kyla Begle – Felicity; Carla Perrotta – Cynthia; Bob Amici – Magnus; Matt Foster - Inspector Hound; Chelsea Reyes – Higgs.
Additional Creative Team:
Set Build/Tech Director - Bret Bahe; Set Design - Shawn Cannon; Lighting Design - Kal Larsen; Costumes - Shawn Cannon; Sound - Bret Bahe; Props - Karen MacIntyre & Maren Caulfield.
March 17, 2023 through April 2, 2023
(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)
The Cannon Theatre, 28 Andrews Parkway, Devens, MA.
For Tickets Contact the Box Office at # 978-448-2108 or visit www.thecannontheatre.org
Cannon Theatre presents Tom Stoppard’s “THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND” a quirky comedy that is far to short for all the laughs it contains.
The farce, written by Stoppard in 1962, begins as two theatre critics, Moon (Chris Lockheardt) and Birdboot (Andrew Harrington) sit together in a luxurious box seat overlooking the stage of a play they are both assigned to review.
While taking place in a faux theatre, the intimate but well designed set itself, courtesy of Bret Bahe and Shawn Cannon, is of "Muldoon Manor," the setting for the show’s “play-within-a-play.”
Moon is a back-up critic (otherwise known as a “second-stringer”) who is called in to review the production of a play when the primary critic, "Higgs," is a no-show.
Lockheardt is adroit at playing up the intense jealousy Moon feels for the unseen Higgs.
Harrington is equally skillful as the skirt-chasing Birdboot, a culture snob and perpetual philanderer.
The play the two men have been assigned to review is "Murder in Muldoon Manor," an absurd murder mystery performed in the melodramatic style of an Agatha Christie whodunit.
(Photo: Kyla Begle in a scene from "THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND" by Tom Stoppard, now playing at the Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through April 2, 2023. Photo Courtesy of Shawn Cannon)
The two critics begin watching and critiquing the play, but soon begin relaying, instead, their most intimate desires and obsessions, particularly Birdboot as he begins lusting after one of the women in the cast.
Yet the play leans more on the overacting element of its players, bringing it closer to an episode of "Fawlty Towers" than any melodrama written by Agatha Christie.
The laughs come every few moments thanks to Stoppard's exquisitely articulate writing. However, there are also a lot of head scratching moments courtesy of Stoppard, as well, as the play takes an abrupt and bizarre turn approximately half-way through - which some may find puzzling.
Given the above, it should also be noted that "THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND" is not simply performed for the sake of its comedy.
There is an underlying satirical theme to the play, specifically in the characters of Moon and Birdboot, which focuses on man’s perception of his own ego (and his own heightened sense of self-importance).
This leads both critics to their ultimate lack of impulse-control and inevitable respective downfalls.
As the saga of "Murder in Muldoon Manor" unfolds, the "manor" itself is an intimate, elegant, beautiful set, replete with a set of French doors and a well-furnished sitting area.
We begin to meet the “play-within-the-play” characters, beginning with the manor’s maid, Mrs. Drudge (Erin Shine) who seems to be the only character in the show cognizant of the fact something isn’t quite right with the play. She especially conveys this as the story gets more bizarre toward the end.
(Photo: Erin Shine and Simon Jensen-Fellows in a scene from "THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND" by Tom Stoppard, now playing at the Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through April 2, 2023. Photo Courtesy of Shawn Cannon)
Enter tall, handsome rogue, Simon Gascoyne (Simon Jensen-Fellows), who has come to the manor to tell his girlfriend, Felicity (Kyla Begle) that he has fallen in love with Cynthia (Carla Perrotta), widow of the unseen “Lord Albert Muldoon” who supposedly disappeared years earlier.
....or DID he?
This is what we are led to consider throughout the show with the usage of some "insidiously timed" moments of lighting.
Both Begle and Perrotta are exceptional as they present their characters as sophisticated, beautiful and incredibly funny women.
They also appear to have been given some of the show's most desirable fashion accessories including some beautiful gowns. High praise for the overall look of the show's characters is deserving to costumer, Shawn Cannon.
Begle is also quite skilled at her character's physically over-the-top, histrionic outbursts, yielding some of the show's most hilarious moments.
A mysterious menacing character enters in the form of Major Magnus Muldoon (Bob Amici), the missing Muldoon's wheelchair bound half-brother who has just arrived from Canada.
Magnus becomes a foil for Simon as the two men compete for Cynthia’s affections.
After a murder occurs, onto the scene comes the play’s title hero, Inspector Hound (Matt Foster), quite possibly the most outlandish character in the entire farce (and play-within-the-play).
Both Amici and Foster are wonderful in their respective supporting roles, with Amici making great use of his character's wheelchair for comedic effect.
(Photo: Chris Lockheardt and Andrew Harrington stand behind Kyla Begle in a scene from "THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND" by Tom Stoppard, now playing at the Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through April 2, 2023. Photo Courtesy of Shawn Cannon)
The play was written as a one-act but is performed with an intermission and, during the show’s second half, the critics end up becoming intimately involved on stage in the play (which starts again from the play’s beginning).
All the performances are spot on, thanks to the fine direction by Maren Caulfield. All the technical elements combined for an effective production well worth seeing.
The play continues in Devens until April 2nd.
Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
ABOUT THE SHOW
In this critically acclaimed comedy, feuding theatre critics Birdboot and Moon — the first a fusty philanderer and the second a pompous and vindictive second stringer — are swept
into the whodunit they are viewing.
They are the only audience - perhaps we should say witnesses - to the butchery play known
as "Murder in Muldoon Manor."
In this hilarious spoof of Agatha Christie-like melodramas, the body under the sofa proves to be an unexpected victim.
As mists rise about isolated Muldoon Manor, Moon and Birdboot become dangerously implicated in the lethal activities happening on the stage before them!
ABOUT THE CANNON THEATRE
The Cannon Theatre was founded by Shawn Cannon and Bret Bahe, who shared a dream of creating a community theater – a place for learning, and great plays, a place where people could enjoy the company of others, laugh, and just lose themselves in the joy of artistic expression. Over the years, the theater incorporated, and then became a non-profit organization, managed so that every precious cent made from each production is carefully fed right back into the creation of the next. During the Pandemic of 2020, the theater was forced to close, as their overhead was too high, They began searching for a new space during 2021, and found it in the late summer of 2021.
The Cannon Theatre board, which still includes the theater’s very active and passionate founders, invites you to join us and experience this welcoming community, whether as an audience member, an actor, backstage crew, or even director. We guarantee you will leave feeling satisfied!
THE CANNON THEATRE
28 Andrews Parkway