Review – House of Games, Almeida Theatre (Phil’s review)

Thursday 23 September 2010

Golly gosh. Can it really be a full year since the Whingers’ minds were not as one. Last September two consecutive shows (Talent and Ben Hur Live!) created a gulf wider than the one a freshly-banged-up popster created in Hampstead’s Snappy Snaps.

Andrew was adamant, “I’d sooner sit through Passion again.”

Richard Bean‘s adaptation of David Mamet and Jonathan Katz‘s 1987 film House of Games sees a Harvard-educated psychoanalyst Margaret (Nancy Carroll) who has made a ton of money from a book ‘Driven! Compulsion and Obsession in Every Day Life’. How did she make that one jump off the shelves? – did she ghost it for Katie Price or Naomi Campbell? Anyway, she gets involved in the life of one of her patients Billy, (Al Weaver) to help him settle his gambling debts.

So far so very unlikely. Margaret is easily seduced by a rather comely hustler Mike (Michael Landes – Jimmy Olsen in the first season of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and gets embroiled with a group of con artists seeing another unlikely best-seller in an academic study of the con game. As with Deathtrap there are twists and turns and so I’ll say no more, not being a resident of Coveney Island.

But you don’t need to be Helga Ten Dorp to predict what’s coming next. The final twist is signalled more conspicuously than if Jenny Agutter had been waving her bloomers at us.

Unlike Andrew, who suffered an attack of St Vitus’ Dance throughout, I was completely engaged, despite having seen (and forgotten) the film but wondered if staying in with an episode of Hustle might have been almost as entertaining. Carroll, who was outstanding in After the Dance provides yet another very watchable turn as an ice-cold Hitchcock-esque blonde at the heart of the story.

The dialogue has some smart lines and whilst the set (Peter McKintosh) is impressive the basic set-up doesn’t bear close scrutiny, falling down on very badly plotted point which assumes that a character will behave in a completely unprofessional way.

It’s all over in an unbroken 100 minutes forcing Andrew to serve his full sentence. Time off for good behaviour wasn’t even considered. Andrew should have appealed to someone. Fat chance of that happening.

Phil’s Rating

One Response to “Review – House of Games, Almeida Theatre (Phil’s review)”

  1. PhilK Says:

    Oh dear, we’re getting split decisions now? This is going to get confusing……


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