A: Tom Stoppard Pf: 1968, London Pb: 1968 G: Com. in 1 act S: Stage set of country-house living room, with auditorium behind, 1960s C: 5m, 3fMoon and Birdboot, two theatre critics, settle to watch a murder mystery. Ambitious young Moon is unhappy, because he remains his newspaper's second-string critic, junior to someone for whom he has no respect, while middle-aged unattractive Birdboot wonders whether he can win an actress's favours by flattering her with a good review. The play begins, using every cliché in the book: dependable housekeeper Mrs Char, a good-looking young couple in their twenties Simon and Felicity, the aristocratic Lady Cynthia Muldoon, the sinister cripple Magnus, all isolated by rising fog. The critics comment on the action, and when, at the start of Act 2, the telephone rings on stage, Moon impatiently gets up to answer it. The call is for Birdboot, and soon the two critics find themselves embroiled in the action of the play. Moon is murdered, and the identity of the real Inspector Hound is finally revealed.
A: Tom Stoppard Pf: 1968, London Pb: 1968 G: Com. in 1 act S: Stage set of country-house living room, with auditorium behind, 1960s C: 5m, 3f
This very funny play parodies traditional English murder mystery plays like The Mousetrap. By introducing critics into the action, Stoppard draws on the metatheatrical game played by Tieck in Puss in Boots, so that reality and events on stage become hopelessly intermingled, generating not only humour but an uneasy sense of shifting levels of reality.