‘Enjoyable as a homage to true crime & the dark side of the human condition’: MINDGAME – West End ★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Michael DavisLeave a Comment

Ambassadors Theatre, London – until 10 June 2018

As a show that’s bookended by the strains of Pink Floyd’s ‘Brain Damage’ from The Dark Side Of The Moon (an inspired choice of music) Anthony Horowitz’s Mindgame certainly signposts its intentions. The last time the West End was home to a play with such overt meta overtures was Ira Lewin’s literary thriller Deathtrap in 2010.

Directed by Karen Henson, the play begins in Fairfields Hospital in Suffolk, which houses a number of residents who are criminally insane. Mark Styler (Andrew Ryan) waits in the office of Dr Alex Farquhar (Michael Sherwin), the director who runs the hospital. However, Styler grows impatient, as he’s been kept waiting for two hours. Around the office he notices a number of artefacts – books in alphabetical order, an expensive bottle of wine, a skeleton, a portrait of the previous director in charge and the view to palatial gardens on the hospital’s grounds. Of themselves, they aren’t extraordinary, but over the course of the play, things occur – things that will make you question your memory…

Styler wants to interview one of the patients (Easterman) for his new book, but Farquhar is resistant to the idea. However, once Styler reveals why he REALLY wants to see Easterman, the play shifts up a gear and to borrow a phrase from Alice In Wonderland, Styler ‘goes down the rabbit hole’…

As the liaison between the two men, Nurse Paisley (Sarah Wynne Kordas) is in many ways the linchpin of the tale, and whose true nature holds the key to the truth. Anyone who has seen Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island will have a fair idea of what to expect in terms of twists and turns, and plot development. Sherwin as the enigmatic Farquhar sustains the sense of unease throughout the play. Meanwhile, as the outsider in Fairfields, Ryan is the audience’s eyes and ears, and grounds the play (at least initially) in a relatable reality.

Had the play not been advertised as a psychological thriller, I dare say the surprises would have a greater impact. Even so, it’s enjoyable as a homage to true crime and the dark side of the human condition. As you watch the show, keep an eye out for the arrangement of the room – especially any projected digital imagery…

Michael Davis on Twitter
Michael Davis
Michael Davis is a former actor and director. He’s passionate about fringe theatre and publicising shows that don’t necessarily receive mainstream attention. He’s previously reviewed for Female Arts and The Play’s the Thing and now runs his own site, Breaking the Fourth Wall. Michael is interested and knowledgeable about all aspects of the arts. He tweets @Michael30517721.
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Michael Davis on Twitter
Michael Davis
Michael Davis is a former actor and director. He’s passionate about fringe theatre and publicising shows that don’t necessarily receive mainstream attention. He’s previously reviewed for Female Arts and The Play’s the Thing and now runs his own site, Breaking the Fourth Wall. Michael is interested and knowledgeable about all aspects of the arts. He tweets @Michael30517721.