Mesmerising thriller marks the return of Grimsby favourites
Thursday 22nd July 2016 Caxton Theatre Grimsby
Hypnosis by David Tristram
Directed by Nadine Bennett-Wood
The Caxton Players are back. After the lengthy enforced break, Grimsby favourites, The Caxton Players, return to the stage to present David Tristram’s blackly, comic thriller Hypnosis. The Caxton Players make a welcome return to the stage after last performing on 14th March 2020, just prior to lockdown in Moira Buffini’s Handbagged. In the interim period the fabric of the theatre has undergone a major refurbishment and should certainly enhance the viewing experience for its loyal audience.
The latest offering sees three characters, metaphorically, in search of a knife which they can plunge into each other’s backs in a tense thriller with plenty of twists and turns designed to keep the audience guessing as to what they truth of the plot is and how it will turn out. At the outset we meet stage hypnotist “TV’s Gordo!” played by Caxton regular Mike Wilson in a front of the curtains act which involves considerable sleight of hand and verbal dexterity to distract and confound the audience as he seeks to humiliate his willing volunteer, Alan Briggs a police officer who denies that he is “feeble-minded” enough to be susceptible to suggestion. This provides us with the perfect set up for the story.
It would be wrong to spend this review recounting the plot as spoilers do exactly that, they spoil the experience if you know too much in advance. I would suggest that when you see the play you concentrate very hard on the minutiae in case you miss any hints or clues that zip along at a rapid pace. Along the way, Gordo is revisited by Briggs, played by the ever-reliable Keiron James, and his long-suffering wife Helen played by Jenny Beckett.
There is much humour contained within the script and some blink and you could miss them quips are worth hearing. As always, Len Wood’s set design and construction is of an excellent standard, conveying two very different homes and two starkly different lifestyles. I particularly enjoyed seeing the old theatrical posters on the walls of Gordo’s house which cheekily included a poster for the Caxtons’ 50th anniversary celebrations and for David Wrightham’s Rabbits which incidentally was the first play Len Wood appeared in for the company. Very nice little touches.
Steve Rayner has designed and operates the sound, featuring some recognizably apt song choices. Lighting was designed by Emrys Babb, set by Debbie Shepherd and operated by Toby Emmitt, who stepped in very late on to deputise.
It is a major achievement for Nadine Bennett-Wood to bring this play to the stage at this time after the pandemic and struggling to be able to keep her cast fresh, whilst juggling with the mammoth challenges of dealing with the Covid 19 Track and Trace app and a script which despite containing all the necessary dialogue, offers noting to suggest how to achieve a production with no suggested designs and few stage directions.
It is a complicated plot that occasionally becomes a little too convoluted and twists so far in some directions that it appears to go back on itself rather unnecessarily at times. This is no fault of the production which seeks, deftly, to manoeuvre its way through Tristram’s vision. It is good to welcome back one of Grimsby’s oldest amateur theatre companies
The play opens on Saturday 24th July and runs for seven nights until 31st July (no Sunday performance) Tickets can be booked online at www.caxtontheatre.com, from Tourist Information Centre or Grimsby Central Hall.
further information can be found at www.caxtontheatre.com