Theatre UNB addressed dark and difficult concepts to take their audiences on two theatrical rollercoasters entitled The Real Inspector Hound and No Exit.
On the nights of Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, Theatre UNB addressed dark and difficult concepts to take their audiences on two theatrical rollercoasters entitled The Real Inspector Hound and No Exit.
The Real Inspector Hound is described by director Len Falkenstein as a play working on multiple levels. “It’s a cuttingly sharp satire of theatre criticism, a parody of Agatha Christie-style locked door murder mysteries, an actual murder mystery, and a thought-provoking metatheatrical exploration,” he said.
To the credit of Falkenstein’s direction and the talent of the cast, TUNB’s version of the show managed to communicate all of these ideas to their audience whilst inspiring laughter and enjoyment.
Mike Johnston and a group of students worked together to create what they described as a simple, but visually striking set. Accompanied by Alfred Hitchcock’s Music to be Murdered By, the red slanted walls created a closed and bloody space.
The audience soon learns that two of the audience members are theatre critics, and so begins the metatheatrical nature of the show. Moon, played by BA student Julianna Richard, is a runner-up to the star theatre critic Higgs, and can’t help but feel enraged and a tad murderous about being a seat-warmer to her supposedly more talented colleague. Moon is joined by Birdboot, a critic with an appreciation for the opposite sex that goes far enough to trouble his wife.
The audience in the theatre included students, professors and community members alike. In addition to the diversity of the crowd, nearly every seat in the venue was full.
The unpredictability of Stoppard’s plot seemed to delight the audience. Eventually, the critics are thrown into the action and the show changes from predictable comedy to an array of meta commentary which blurs the line between theatre and life.
“Just keeping up with Stoppard’s intellectual gymnastics is the enjoyable challenge for all,” said Falkenstein.
Sartre’s No Exit takes a more serious tone than The Real Inspector, but shares the theme of captivity.
After a brief fifteen-minute intermission and fast changes to the versatile and effective set made by Johnston and the students, the stage is set again. Now a more enclosed space has been created with the addition of another blood-red wall, and notably sparse furniture.
Three strangers are placed in the room together, and the audience slowly learned that the trapped occupants were in Hell.
Business student Hirad Hajilou played a Brazilian journalist; St. Thomas University English and drama student Hannah Blizzard played a hard-headed lesbian post office clerk; and UNB student Mary Walker played the ditzy and beautiful Estelle. While each actor had physical traits that made them rather suitable for the roles, their performances made the characters and production all the more convincing.
While the characters realize the nature of their torture along with the audience, there are plenty of dark moments where everyone is unsure whether they should laugh, or cry. As the play unfolds, the misdeeds and sins of each character comes to light, revealing their innermost insecurities and secrets.
As the true nature of their torture is revealed, the darkest yet funniest line of the show is stated by Hajilou: “Hell is other people!”