It turns out that for over two decades I have been endowing People Show with a definite article they do not wish to claim! That must be infuriating for them, worse than my ire when an accent creeps onto the Cafe in Stan’s Cafe. Anyway, in a pathetic rearguard action to claw back some ground on this year’s Theatre Pledge I’m going to review People Show 121: The Detective Show as seen in THE Door at THE Rep. this Saturday.
On leaving the auditorium I overheard lots of comments about how ‘weird’ this show was. I was please because the show was well liked, but a little disheartened that is was regarded as strange. THIS SHOULD BE THE MAINSTREAM!
The Detective Show is great fun. It zips along as a murder mystery unfolds, jumping back and forth through time from interrogation room to narrative and back, occasionally pausing to extend a self-reflexive narrative about the performance of the show. The piece is tight and well structured, there are lots of good jokes, smart ideas and pleasing details. The three performances are strong, Gareth Brierley is smoothly engaging and amusing as Suspect and Trenchcoat clad Detective. People Show co-founder (in 1966!!) Mark Long, is hilarious, menacing and always charismatic in a host of roles. Both performers also play ‘themselves’ with Brierley lauding it over Long until the play’s final moments. This relationship adds a great extra fizz to the show but as a consequence rather muscles out Fiona Creese (also a significant proportion of Slot Machine). This is an observation more then a criticism, Creese plays the murder victim, a ruthlessly efficient detective and an enigmatic M. Poirot with skill and precision but has little room to work in.
The Detective Show isn’t about anything beyond itself and doesn’t need to be, it is a thoroughly engaging diversion. It unwraps itself steadily towards its conclusion and ends full exposed. It should be the mainstream and it’s a tragedy for People Show and for us all that it isn’t.