Mindgameby Anthony Horowitz; dir Darren Scott
Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa
23 January – 3 February 2013
4 stars

Mindgame is a ‘dark psychological thriller’ adapted from the novel of the same name – by the same author. It is set in the office of the director of an asylum for the criminally insane, where crime author Styler has arrived to try to arrange a series of interviews with serial killer Easterman.

As we join the action, we find that Styler (Roger Harding) has been waiting alone in the office for the last two hours and is getting fed up. Before long, the director arrives: Dr Farquhar (pronounced Farrar) (Craig Shelton). Farquhar seems surprised by the visitor and says he has no knowledge of the previous correspondence that has taken place. He tells Styler that the interviews are out of the question and that he should leave. His demeanour and actions soon strike us as peculiar and we start to wonder if all is not as it seems. A little later, after repeated summoning on the phone, Nurse Plimpton (Ruth Herd) arrives and the oddness steps up another notch as she tries to persuade Styler to leave. Yet by this time Farquhar seems reluctant to let him do so, being fascinated in why Styler wishes to interview Easterman of all people.

In fact, very little is at it seems in this play, which is rife with deceptions and oddities and deliberately tries to confuse and mislead the audience, who are keenly trying to interpret everything. Even what you see can be misleading and keeping observant and alert is important. With the setting in mind, you would be right in suspecting that there are some disturbing and violent scenes, but there is also a dose of dark humour.

All the parts are played well, with Craig Shelton standing out as particularly effective, but I felt that it could have done with an extra degree of mania in some of the scenes to draw us into the action and bring out the scary experience that it could be. Despite the threats and acts of violence, it never quite felt that I wasn’t watching three actors.

Having said that, it was a creditable effort and good to see something out of the ordinary. An entertaining night out that will have you thinking about it for some time afterwards.

Millicent Short


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