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Nottingham.
MINDGAME: Anthony Horowitz.
3star ***

Theatre Royal to 20 August

Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 0m: one interval: till 20th August.
Performance times: 7.30pm weekdays, 5pm and 8pm Saturday (Matinee 2.00pm Weds).
Review: Alan Geary: 16th August 2016.

Your thinking person’s play. It makes a highly entertaining evening.

If you’re already distressed at the state of the NHS, especially in Suffolk, where the play’s set, best give Mindgame a miss. But if you appreciate a cracking thriller with twists, turns and ambiguities throughout, and which moreover makes you think, go out and see it.

Schlock true-crime writer Mark Styler (Andrew Ryan) arrives at Fairfields High Security Hospital on a pre-arranged visit to interview a patient, a serial-killing cannibal he’s planning to exploit for a book. But Dr Farquhar (Michael Sherwin) is strangely and disturbingly reluctant to cooperate. Soon the appearance of Nurse Paisley (Sarah Wynne Kordas) complicates matters.

Right from the start there’s something about the set – a tricksy one – that isn’t quite right: the anatomical skeleton and the phrenological head, for instance, seem a bit set-piece and obvious.

More alarming, a portrait on the wall appears to change during the course of the play, and a brick wall outside the window gradually gets higher. Then there are the screams and incongruously corny snatches of musical standards heard from elsewhere in the establishment.

Performances are first-rate. Ryan’s ranges from laid-back cockiness to broken-down hysteria and all points in between. And Sherwin’s must be the best he’s delivered in any Nottingham Thriller Season. Wynne Kordas’s down-trodden but bolshie – or so it initially seems – Nurse Paisley is also well done.

This is your thinking person’s play. It invites you to ponder on the merits or otherwise of progressive psychiatry, and whether a jobbing cannibal killer is mad or bad. And it poses the question, what is insanity and how can any individual prove to other people that he isn’t completely deranged? It even makes you wonder, what is or is not real?

Most of all, it provides some fine black laughter moments and keeps you guessing about what’s coming next in a highly entertaining evening.

Mindgame makes a stylish finale to this summer’s Thriller Season at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.


Styler: Andrew Ryan.
Farquar: Michael Sherwin.
Paisley: Sarah Wynne Kordas.


Director: Karen Henson.
Designer: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Lighting Design: Michael O’Donoghue.
Sound Design: David Gilbrook.
 
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