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With Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap going into its 48th year, who can deny that there is a market on the West End stage for the genre of murder mystery? Anthony Horowitz's thriller Mindgame is a gruesome chiller about a secure establishment treating patients convicted of serial killings. Horowitz wrote many of the scripts for the popular television series Poirot and The Midsomer Murders.
It would be a crime to reveal the plot here, suffice it to say that there are several twists and turns and the playwright gives you a chance to guess some of what may be coming, but not all of it. People are not what they seem to be, but there are plenty of clues for all you amateur sleuths out there, and some red herrings as well.
Simon Ward is the archetypal English gentleman in tweeds and waistcoat, but is he? Christopher Blake plays an assured and brash writer, planning to write a book about a serial killer, but is he just playing a part? Helen Hobson would look more at home in a brothel than an asylum as a blonde nurse with tight uniform, high heels and a low cleavage. But who is she really? Rowan Blare who appears in the programme as Invalid is an anagram of the middle of Simon Ward and Christopher Blake's names.
The action is at times grizzly and, yes the stiletto-heeled shoe does get used as a weapon. There's also an alarm that goes off with red flashing lights filling the auditorium which had a woman next to me jump out of her seat.
Oh, there's also a mysterious painting of the aged Dorian Gray which in the course of the play metamorphoses into a much younger Doreen Gray, but I'm not sure why.
Mindgameis a filler thriller brought into the Vaudeville to get us through the silly season. Not my cup of poison, I'm afraid.
Written by Anthony Horowitz
Directed by Richard Baron
With: Simon Ward, Helen Hobson, Christopher Blake
Design: Ken Harrison
Lighting Design: Mark Pritchard
Running time: Two hours including an interval
Vaudeville Theatre, Strand, London WC2R 0NH (Tube: Charing Cross)
Box Office: 020 7836 9987
Booking to 16th September 2000
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 6th June 2000 performance at the Vaudeville, Strand, London WC2.