INsite Magazine

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hipp play brings audiences face to face with madness

"Every man has something to hide, he wouldn't be a man if he didn't."

So proclaims the head psychiatrist, of Fairfields Institute for the Criminally Insane in the Hippodrome's production of Mindgame - or is he a patient? Are they even in Fairfields? In a play where nothing is what it seems and twists are turning faster than you can say "I got it!" the actors of Mindgame did an excellent job at keeping the audiences guessing through the opening night of the play.

The play follows the interaction between author Mark Styler (played by Tod Zimmerman), psychiatrist Dr. Farquhar (David Sitler) and nurse Plimpton (Sara Morsey)--who seems a bit "off" at first meeting.

Styler, while conducting research for his next true crime best-selling thriller, seeks out the help of Dr. Farquhar, the head psychiatrist at an institution holding the notorious angel-faced serial killer Easterman--a killer that Styler's new book centers around.

The actors are artful in divulging just enough hidden agendas and double meanings; audiences can sense that what they see isn't what they get. Sitler was a standout character; his technique transformed him into the perfect bad-guy-playing-a-good-guy-playing-a-bad-guy.. playing a good guy? Perhaps.

The play is described as a spine-tingling thriller, and although the fear factor is erased by the audiences' laughter over the tongue-in-cheek dialogue, the play is still strictly PG-13 at the very least. The tones of sexual deviancy, murder, gore and sadism make the play better suited for mature audiences. The audience's laughter at scenes of murder and talk of torture pointed either to society's fascination with violence and sex, or otherwise a big inside joke that I missed out on.

The special effects were up to par with the play's mind-playing theme. Two standout effects were the breaking of a wine glass over someone's head (please tell me how they did that), and the smoking scenes. For the sake of authenticity, no one seemed to mind the fact that there was real cigarette smoke sifting through the theatre, not even the 15 year-old-girl in the front row.

If you are looking for a mind-challenging and heart-thumping experience, catch Mindgame playing now through Nov. 8, at the Hippodrome. When you go, keep an eye out for the subtle foreshadowing director Lauren Caldwell inserted into the play. Little things like changing pictures, changes of tone and witty banter make for a fun who-dunnit, why-dunnit experience.

For more information and to get tickets click here.

--Stephanie Granada

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