Alfred Hitchcock's Writers' Room

You do not often look around an audience during a show and see barely any unsmiling faces; scarcer still, there is unanimous overheard praise afterwards.And yet, Alfred Hitchcock’s Writers’ Room is a funny little play from the Reading University Drama Society that achieves both of those things. Perhaps this is because, despite its faults, it accomplishes something rarer and rarer demonstrated in recent Fringes - a remarkable sense of playing onstage. Undoubtedly this is credited to the direction of Cameron Gill (who is also to thank for a fantastic script with Ades Singh) and a winning cast of Thomas Sparrow, Rebecca Penn, Conor Field, Jess Davies and Luke Cox.

The resolution is appropriately satisfying

We are taken (surprisingly) to the writers’ room of the famous director Alfred Hitchcock. An excitable detective (Luke Cox) shares his investigation into the murder of a woman known as ‘Sarah’. As he dives behind a couch, the scriptwriters arrive, each sharing their visions for the next big Hitchcock thriller and suggesting an explanation to the mystery in their subtext. The engine is the group’s abundant dynamism, striking fluidity and tremendous wit; all thoroughly enjoyable for audiences – as well as, seemingly, the cast – and just incredibly fun. The vignettes of the writers’ stories feel brilliantly cartoonish, though this style at times strays too far, sacrificing nuance and quality. The script is full of great material - “Murder makes me hungry” – that fantastically sends the retro theme through the prism of modernity. There is also some truly intuitive lighting courtesy of George Ormisher - not often seen in student productions.

Unfortunately, there are workable issues. Some performances overtly lack the detail and vividness of others in addition to the presence necessary to fill their (significant) roles – not to mention inconsistent accents. This is partially responsible for the main issue that plagues Alfred Hitchcock’s Writers’ Room – rhythm. Momentum is steadily built but quickly and awkwardly slashed. There is often an obvious lack of sharpness and snappiness with ‘fat’ yet to be cut from certain scenes. This energy could be better focused into making some of the bigger moments – such as the detective’s revealing of himself and the killer’s confession – more significant (for there are other levels to ‘big’ beyond screaming). The creation a trendy sense of ‘meta’ falls flat through a lack of commitment, though with more thought and consistency it might have appeared more tangible.

The resolution is appropriately satisfying; while the killer’s confession is marvellously deadpan – “I’m deadly serious when it comes to murder” – it lacks energy and drama, feeling anticlimactic. But the blurring of the writers’ ambitions and those of their characters in the final moments is a gratifying expression of the piece’s joie de vivre. Terrific story aside, it is the enthusiasm, energy and fun with which the cast bounce around the stage and off each other that ensured the audience’s delight and that makes Alfred Hitchcock’s Writers’ Room a jolly good time this festival.

Reviews by Jet Graham

Pleasance Courtyard

The Wild Unfeeling World

★★★★
Heroes @ Bob's BlundaBus

Imaan Hadchiti: Being Frank

★★★★
Just the Tonic at The Grassmarket Centre

Matt Hoss: Here Comes Your Man

★★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

Tess

★★★
Pleasance Dome

21 Futures by Olly Hawes

★★
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

Not Quite

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

This original play revolves around a darkly comic Hitchcockian tale. Our story takes place in 1961, Mr Hitchcock has hired four young writers to script potential follow-ups to his big hit of 1960, Psycho. However, with the master of suspense, all is not as it seems. When sharing their stories, the writers reveal the recurring plot of a murdered woman – a real murdered woman. As prime suspects, a detective investigates the Writers’ Room to find the culprit. Who is responsible for the crime? Come and watch this humorous pastiche of Hitchcock’s work to find out.

Most Popular See More

The Book of Mormon

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Les Miserables

From £22.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets