Hitchcock Blonde

Hitchcock Blondeby Terry Johnson; dir Darren Scott
Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa
22 January – 1 February 2014

Hitchcock Blonde tells a hypothetical story of two modern-day researchers finding some scraps of film shot by the famous director in 1919 (before his film career) which seemed to presage the shower scene from Psycho. Parallel to this is a story of Hitchcock himself and the blonde who played the body double for that scene in 1959.

The stylish set showed the former story in the foreground with the latter played upstage on a raised platform in front of a large screen which created a slightly unearthly quality to those scenes and was used to display some of the film frames the researchers were working on. This looked promising. Our interest was further piqued at the start by a film clip in the style of the ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ introductions asking us to turn off mobile phones.

Sadly things were rather a disappointment from then on. The 1959 story was the more interesting of the two, with the Blonde, driven by ambition for fame and money, attempting to turn Hitchcock’s comments about the disposal of murder victims against him by dumping a body on him that unconvincingly turns out not to be dead after all. The motivations of the Blonde could at least be grasped at and the forceful performance by Karen Brooks certainly helped with that. But she was fighting in a losing cause and the story as a whole was disjointed and confusing. It didn’t help that Hitchcock himself was played in a most distracting manner: mouth permanently agape and head leant back as though in the grip of a badly-fitted neck brace. It is always difficult to portray such a well-known and distinctive figure, but there are many available examples of the man himself to study. This was not so much Hitchcock as Hitchcock’s corpse.

The modern-day story saw a university lecturer inviting his much younger student to a holiday in a Greek villa to investigate and preserve the decomposing remnants of film from 1919 – his ulterior motive was to also get her into bed with him. This whole story lacked credibility in so many ways, the combination of those two things not least of all; valuable decomposing film is treated in controlled conditions, not over a glass of wine while chatting someone up. The characters had little credibility too and not only due to the performances, although these were poor: the lecturer being too laid-back and the student over-acting as though her life depended on it.

At the root, it was difficult to identify with or believe in any of the characters from either story and consequently we didn’t care what happened to any of them. Add to that the generally tenuous and convoluted story and you end up with an experience that I just found boring. Judging by the gaps in the audience during the second act, I was far from the only one.



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