“I will kill you,” she yelled at him in the courtyard, causing a passer-by to stop mid-step, bewildered. But that just made the crew laugh. They were part of the H72 Productions crew practicing for their upcoming show: The Real Inspector Hound.
The play, which runs at the Junction from October 11-13, does not tout great messages and morals. But, it does promise giggles. Gautam Goenka, whose credits include Almost Maine (earlier this year), has been itching to get back on stage with a bit of comedy. The audience, he says, “can expect a lot of laughter, [a] lot of mirth; the show’s a comedy, it’s a farce, and it’s got several meanings at different levels”.
The plot, originally strung together by Tom Stoppard in 1968, is essentially a play that unravels into another play. It begins with two critics, Birdboot and Moon, attending an Agatha Christie-esqe murder mystery — “you’ve got strangers locked in a house and one of them has done it” — but somewhere along the way they get caught up in events that seem eerily similar to what they are watching on stage. What’s so funny about murder?
“The comedy comes out of the critics watching the play. The comedy comes from the way the actors within this play are acting: they are playing it over-the-top,” explains Goenka.
Or in the case of the widow Lady Cynthia Muldoon, central to the whodunit set in Muldoon manor, it’s the case of competing emotions. She flitters this way and that, wanting to move on and fall in love with men who are trying to woo her, and yet secretly hopes that her husband — whose body was never found — will return to her.
“She [her character] skips from wanting to be with Albert [her husband] to wanting to be with someone else in a matter of seconds, and I love to play these extremities… that’s what creates the funny. Even this woman who is in her grey area — who is struggling internally and externally — she’s still comes out to be very funny,” says actor Carine Bouary.
The director, who is also one of the leads in the show, chortles as he talks about the challenges of donning two hats in a play that already requires duality from the characters. “You need to be able to see the play as a whole but still stay in character and you know, play out your part, so that ability to step in and step out is quite important. You need to start seeing and advising actors on what they are doing and at the same time remembering how you as a character need to react. [Plus] you’ve to worry about the play’s production side of things… I’d forgotten how challenging it was and it came screaming out to me in this play,” he said.
It also required some creativity. “I directed the themes within the themes very separately and had the actors think about it as a stand-alone production — until they [the storylines] merged.”
And the whole picture, believes this cast, will make you smile.
Don’t miss it!
Tickets to The Real Inspector Hound, which runs from October 11-13 at The Junction, are Dh100.