Sunday, 26 January 2020

Murder on Mulholland Drive, Theatr Clwyd (Mold)

OK, let’s get this straight from the start, this is not a stage version of David Lynch’s strange neo-noir 2001 film starring Naomi Watts. 

Mulholland Drive is a road that stretches 21 miles in Southern California, USA, which takes in scenic views of the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley. It has some of the most famous and expensive houses in the world and is home to several Hollywood celebrities; and it makes the perfect setting for an Agatha Christie style whodunnit!

Who Killed Houston Ziegfried McCoy?

Murder on Mulholland Drive is a murder mystery play written and starring Richard Jones of Pheonix Theatre Company, Mold, a familiar name to those who frequent Theatr Clwyd. Set in the 1950’s, it is a cautionary tale of what could happen to a sleazy, middle-aged man, who happens to be head of one of the most powerful film studios in Hollywood. Houston Ziegfried McCoy has helped many hopeful starlets achieve their ambitions, but his methods have made him many enemies along the way.

Monday, 20 January 2020

An Inspector Calls, The Lowry (Salford)

Well my 2020 theatre season has commenced with a splendid big bang! The English novelist and playwright J B Priestly, wrote what is probably regarded as his most well-known drama, An Inspector Calls, in 1945. Surprisingly, the play was first performed in that year in Moscow; the first performance in English took place in London the following year. It stood to reason that a cinematic version would follow and in 1954 Alastair Sim took on the role of the titular inspector. It is a contender for one of my favourite films of all time and whilst other film versions have been made, the original version remains the best in my humble opinion.

In 1992, Stephen Daldry decided that his directorial debut at The National Theatre, London, would be this old warhorse of a text. Was this to be a stroke of genius or professional suicide? Most productions of An Inspector Calls, which is set in 1912, would take place in a reconstructed, historically accurate Edwardian drawing room, complete with period furniture and heavy on the crystal decanters etc. Those productions subconsciously take you back to a past era, but the issues back then are still affecting modern audiences; probably more so now with the advent of technology and the inability to “get away from it all,” so how do you keep the feel of the original play, but make it relevant for a modern audience?

Instead of keeping with tradition, Daldry changed the setting to 1945, when the play was written. He had such a fresh, imaginative approach to the staging of An Inspector Calls, that the traditional boring drawing room drama seems to have died out. I’m thrilled that I can now say that I’ve experienced his visionary production, including Ian MacNeil’s house on stilts, first-hand.