In the third part of this mafia-inspired trilogy, the action returns to a dingy hotel room in Chicago. It’s 1943 and Detective Vindici (Oliver Tilney) has been holed up at the Lexington for months, plotting vengeance for the death of his wife Grace. It’s a set-up that’s ripe for parody and Jamie Wilkes’ script revels in this, complete with husky film noir voiceover and heavy-handed puns.
Good performances from the three actors slip a little too often to remain convincing and an overlong ending threatens to blunt the thrill of the finale
It initially appears to follow Loki (Part I) down the path of ridiculous farce, but its silly accents and disguises sit surprisingly well alongside moments of real poignancy. A complex, time-shifting plot, which takes in the other two plays of the trilogy, is cleverly done as the hotel room becomes the scene of various interconnected traumas spanning several decades. As the various plot lines are threaded together they grow ever more intriguing and ever more touching.
It’s this device that adds real weight to Vindici. The audience is taken through the layers of deceit and betrayal that have combined to produce the tragic death of the detective’s wife, which proves a sobering tale of misogyny and sexual abuse. In an attempt to entrap his target, Vindici becomes part of the very process that destroyed Grace’s life and that of so many women like her - an enlightening and torturous experience for audience and character alike. The stories that run through the room at the Lexington and leave behind their indelible traces of trauma are all part of what Vindici calls a “cycle of abuse”, one that allows rich, powerful men to have their way with the world.
It is at these points that Vindici really excels. When done well, the film noir parody brings light relief that only serves to heighten the drama, but occasionally it jars, especially when the audience is being asked to shift from laughter to tragedy in a single breath or lighting change. Good performances from the three actors slip a little too often to remain convincing and an overlong ending threatens to blunt the thrill of the finale, but the play’s strengths carry these flaws. Its more incisive moments are what leave a lasting impression.