This is my first outing for an AmDram play since November 2019. It felt good to be back in the War Memorial Hall in Broadstone. Until, that is, the continued coughing, wheezing and gasping for breath of some poor chap broke through the consciousness. There were many anxious looks toward the source. Covid casts a long shadow. I do hope the chap is alright.
I’ve not seen Hypnosis before, so beyond the idea that it is by David Tristram and therefore, in my mind at least, would be very funny, I had no notion of what to expect.
There was a very clever set. I liked the idea of going through the front door framed by the tabs to appear entering Gordo’s sitting room from the inside view of the door when the tabs opened. There was a split set – Gordo’s sitting room and Alan’s sitting room in which the action takes place.
The play opens at the end of Gordo (Chris Hugill), Stage Hypnotist’s show and the hypnotised policeman Alan Briggs (Andrew Murton) unwittingly mimicking a chicken and a monkey at the hands of Gordo. Alan looked convincingly bewildered yet good natured as Gordo’s show closed, so it was quite a surprise to see him holding Gordo at gunpoint outside Gordo’s front door moments later. What has happened? What catastrophic events have befallen Alan’s mind? Well, it seems, Alan is convinced his wife Helen (Sali Pike) is having an affair and he wants Gordo to hypnotise her for the purposes of stopping it.
But all is not as it seems. With more twists and turns than a downhill slalom, all is revealed over the ensuing 100 or so minutes.
It soon became clear that this was not your usual Tristram comedy but more a full on thriller with a few funny lines. Even with the first night nerves and the coughing man, the plot keeps you on your toes. It was quite a surprise when the lights came up for the interval.
With a hundred minutes to fill for a cast of three, there were a lot of lines to learn. Along with first night nerves that must’ve been amplified by a two year hiatus and the constant backdrop of Covid, there was some hesitancy with the words. It all felt a bit tentative. The scene transitions, although marked only by a change of lighting, were very slow. As a result, the pace was somewhat lacking and the dialogue occasionally unconvincing.
By the second half the cast began to hit their stride and the twists became twistier; it was impossible to see where this was going. There was still a strange lack of tension between the protagonists but a great use of music throughout that did help to compensate.
By the end of the show, I felt the players had done a really good job and with the first night under their belt, I have a feeling this play is going to keep on improving.
Hypnosis runs until 19 February. It really is well worth a watch.