Book – The Real Inspector Hound

Author – Tom Stoppard

Year – 1968

Pages – 48

Genre – Play

Characters – 8 (3f, 5m)

I have spoken before about my admiration of the writing style of Tom Stoppard. His plays are written, in my experience, not to just be performed, but also to be read. This is a somewhat older play of his, and whilst not quite to that level of interesting stage direction, it is still fascinating, and as a play, maybe better than the other Stoppards that I have read.

Moon and Birdboot are theatre critics, watching a murder mystery unfurl on stage. It is very obviously a terrible play, but they seem somewhat oblivious to this fact, ruminating instead on the attractiveness of the actresses and on the pecking order of theatre critics at their respective papers. Whilst the play continues in front of them, they sit in the front row discussing who the murderer might be. As the play progresses, it becomes increasingly twisted and abstract, as the play starts to reflect the critics real lives and worries.

And it is wonderful. I have a bit of a weakness for plays that abstractly show bad theatre happening on stage – when the theatres are back up and running, I would recommend The Play That Goes Wrong to absolutely anyone, as it may be the funniest thing that I have ever seen – and this is a great example of that genre, that does not just simply rely on that as a humourous premise with no added theatrical benefit. I cannot help when reading a play but to imagine staging it, and in this example I would want to direct it, be in it, and also just see it live.

I really don’t think I am anywhere near having read – or even seen – enough theatre to have a favourite playwright, but when all is said and done, I would be unsurprised if Stoppard is quite high on that list.


PS – Little side-note about how this very old copy cost only 45p originally! Imagine the books I could collect at only 45p a copy! Actually, probably best not to…