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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

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Theater Thu Aug 26 2010

Signal Ensemble Theatre's The Real Inspector Hound


Had I known that The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard was a play about how the efforts of critique are fruitless and irrelevant, I may not have jumped on the chance to critique it. If you're not familiar with Stoppard's story, written and produced for the first time in 1968, it's a "whodunit" play, within a commentary on the biases of critics. But there I found myself last Thursday, in the Signal Ensemble Theatre's new permanent space in North Center, being sucked into two simultaneous plays and questioning my role as a "critic" in the room.

That being said, The Signal Ensemble Theatre gives an entertaining performance for their first show of the season, and the cast seems right at home on their new stage- despite the occasional roar of the "El" tracks.

It takes some time to adjust to the over-dramatization of the play within the play. The satirical approach to theatre requires the actors who play actors to exploit every stage style and approach that regular theatre-goers pick up on. Seeing these nuances under a microscope gave the production an unavoidably forced feel at times. Audience members must keep reminding themselves that the over-acting is intentional, and focus on the story occurring "off-stage" where the two critics sit and discuss the premiere of the new murder mystery. Moon, played by Philip Winston, and Birdboot, played by Jon Steinhagen, provide the real story, with their peculiar connections to the onstage plot.

The Real Inspector Hound can feel drawn out and overdone, but the topsy-turvy twist towards the end gives all of the clich├ęd theatrics an unexpected purpose. The critic's involvement in the murder mystery will leave you contemplating the baggage you bring to theatre, yourself. The cast does a great job of dragging the audience through two, simultaneous productions and they never hold back form being just ridiculous enough for some good laughs.

But that is just my opinion as a biased critic.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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