Sunday, November 02, 2008
What are we to make of Mindgame, Anthony Horowitz's new play? Taken as a farce, it can, at times, be delightful, with a particularly hammy Keith Carradine working us up as Doctor Farquar, head of a notorious mental institution, and Kathleen McNenny as a belabored nurse. ("I'm sorry," she intones, "I was a bit tied up," and we know the cut of that jib.) But I'm told Horowitz's novel was a thriller, and taken in that vein, Ken Russell has directed a limp, dead thing, with plot twists obvious from a mile away simply because we know something must happen. This is the play Lee Godart thinks he's in, at least, playing the straight reporter, Mark Styler, without a shred of humor or self-awareness. The result is Poe's The Mansion of Madness desperately trying to be Ira Levin's fantastic Deathtrap, a play which valued motivation over the convenience of plot. Farces about serial killers may not work, but there are a few cuts that at least stand out: "He does not think that anything is the matter with him because one of the problems with him is that he does not believe there is anything wrong with him." The playwright is suffering from this delusion, and he has created this bit of psychotherapy at our expense: try the shock treatment instead, it doesn't last as long.