Peter McGarry is an experienced,
independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to
review Talisman Theatre productions.
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The
Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content
of these reviews and will not comment publicly on what he writes.
Here is a comedy thriller which can never quite
make up its mind whether to go for the comedy or the thrills.
Unfortunately, it isn't very funny and it totally lacks tension.
This is quite a pity because the degree of quality it does
achieve is all packed into the first ten minutes. At this
point, the audience shares a stage hypnotism act which starts
the ball rolling with plenty of promise. It enables Graham
Underhill as the somewhat seedy hypnotist and John Francis
as his bewildered victim to indulge some splendid moments
of theatrical knockabout and raises our hopes of a spirited
But from then on, writer David Tristram tries to twist and
turn his tale around every type of cliche associated with
the genre. There is a constantly shifting balance of power
between the characters, a threatening pistol is produced every
few minutes, we try to unscramble baffling talk about a pizza
and a bank robbery and a million-pound pay-off, and keep up
with cartwheeling relationships with the woman of the piece,
played with a one-dimensional lack of subtlety by Kathy Crawshaw.
Director Phil Quinn clearly recognises that this is no art
piece and opts for a suitably racy pace interspersed with
rather tiresome bursts of music. It's a shame that the hypnotist
and the victim who becomes his subsequent nemesis don't have
better material as the play progresses to enable the actors
to build on the original promise of their characters instead
of being reduced to mere ciphers of convoluted plotting.
There is a distinct art to making this kind of material work.
One has only to look back at plays like Ira Levin's Deathtrap
and Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth to see how small-cast thrillers
can really grip.
At best, opening scene apart, this entertains at a strictly