The Real Inspector Hound
by Tom Stoppard
"(One) of the funniest and most brilliant plays in the English language.” The Sunday Times
“A comic masterpiece.” The Guardian
About the play
The Real Inspector Hound opens with pompous theatre critics Moon and Birdboot settling into their seats to review a performance of a murder mystery, essentially a rip-off of The Mousetrap. It quickly becomes apparent that Moon is filling in for his superior Higgs, whom he loathes, and Birdboot is only really interested in a liaison with a female member of the cast.
Tom Stoppard’s play within a play hilariously parodies a typical country manor house murder mystery, with outrageous red herrings, unclear motives, sudden deaths, romantic intrigue and unexpected reveals of identity. Imagine Noises Off meets The Play That Goes Wrong written by Agatha Christie.
Stoppard’s play is a truly glorious send up of the theatre critic as a profession (he himself spent time as a theatre critic). Various aspects of the theatre critic are satirised: their pompous pretentiousness, their over-intellectual analyses as well as the tendency for some to abuse their influential power to impress up and coming actresses.
Inspector Hound escalates into chaotic brilliance, however, when the two critics who are there to review the play, step through the fourth wall, so becoming part of the play they’re watching. As they stumble into a script they’ve never rehearsed, the unstoppable progress of the play-within-the-play to its twist-filled ending is as hilarious as it is entertaining. Just who is The Real Inspector Hound?