Alfred Hitchcock's Writers' Room

Sun 12th – Sat 18th August 2018

reviews

Verity Kim

at 08:40 on 17th Aug 2018

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An original play by Reading University Drama Society, ‘Alfred Hitchcock’s Writer’s Room’ pays homage to the work of Alfred Hitchcock. The show draws on the techniques of the great cinematic master to craft a pleasantly funny play that keeps you constantly entertained. The premise of the show is that it is a murder mystery, but truly in the vein of Hitchcock this quickly reveals itself to be a mere plot device. The show parodies the genre of the murder mystery, and its witty commentary on the trope is well-executed and delightful to watch.

Director Cameron Gill’s eye for detail makes itself evident from the very beginning, as the characters come out one by one onto the stage. The costumes take you back to the heyday of Hollywood cinema, as well as communicate quite clearly who and what the characters are supposed to be. There was an instant outburst of laughter as Scott, played by Conor Field, entered onto the stage in his tight turtleneck sweater and trousers, presenting himself in the stereotypical manner of a gay man. The show takes these stereotypes and engages with them, and its comic timing is genius; I don’t think there was a joke that was missed or poorly delivered. The actors’ on-stage chemistry is also a tangible presence, and my favourite part of the show was probably just watching the characters bicker amongst themselves.

Story-wise, the play was not without its faults. I felt that the detective character, played by Luke Cox, could have been better incorporated into the overall narrative. He often felt like an afterthought, an all too obvious tool that provided necessary exposition. The conclusion as well, felt a little bit rushed. The anticlimactic reveal of the murderer’s identity left me thinking that there would, in fact, be another twist, and I felt that the ending would have been better if it had took its time.

Though it has its flaws, ‘Alfred Hitchcock’s Writer’s Room’ is a lethally enjoyable production that is carefully put together. A perfect recommendation for all hardcore Hitchcock fans or just people who fancy having a good laugh.

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Lottie Hayton

at 10:13 on 17th Aug 2018

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Reading University Drama Society’s play is a witty and original piece based around a murder supposedly committed by one of Alfred Hitchcock’s plot writers. Costume, lighting and props were used to good effect whilst a clever array of characters, including the posh, cocky Kevin and simpering Lila, brought life to this comedy-drama. Jess Davies was especially good as Maya, one of the writers.

Each of the four writers took it in turns to tell their ideas for a film plot. Although these occasionally spilled over into the ridiculous this worked well with the tone of the piece. Some moments of childishness detracted from an otherwise clever idea, but slick lines throughout ensured a good number of laughs. When DI Devlin accuses them all of murder, Kevin points to the feeble Scott and says “no-one innocent’s ever worn a turtle neck Scott!”

The audience engagement worked well as Maya made witty conversation with someone on the front row in her thick New York accent. Asking, “how you doing?” only to reply when the audience member answered that she was well: “this is a play, you're in the audience, you gotta shut up.”

There were moments when this show lapsed too far into the realm of slapstick. This was especially the case with scenes involving the hapless Detective Inspector Devlin. It might be better if Luke Cox, who plays the detective, toned down his portrayal of the character. Overall, however the slightly inane humour of the piece worked well because it was not overdone.

Funny touches, such as the sung voiceover interludes, really solidified this show as a strong, original, and witty piece of theatre. It will be interesting to see what the writers, Ades Singh and Cameron Gill, create next.

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