Mindgame – Review – Wakefield Theatre Royal

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Mindgame Wakefield

Mindgame – Review

Wakefield Theatre Royal, April 2019

by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab

Murder, madness and insanity are the three things that Wakefield Theatre Royal plays host to this week. And leading author Anthony Horrowitz’s psychological thriller Mindgame is the play that we’ve all come to see.

And as the curtain lifts we’re in Dr Farquhar’s office at Fairfields, the mental asylum where author Mark Styler has been waiting for a meeting with the Doctor for over two hours.

He enters monologue mode as he takes out a tape recorder to note down observations in the room – making a record for himself, whilst venting his frustration at having to wait for his meeting for so long.

The entire production is played out in the one office, with a confident and very normal Styler (Andrew Ryan) on stage for the shows entirety.

Mindgame Wakefield

“An obsession”

There’s a purposeful slowness to the first half of Mindgame, as Farquhar (Michael Sherwin) eventually appears. He seems confused as to the reason for Styler’s visit at first, and it’s here where things start to feel a bit less normal.

As the tale unravels, we learn that Styler is here to write a new novel. A new book about one of the members of the Asylum – notorious serial killer Easterman. There seems to be an obsession with Easterman, and Farquhar demands to know why Styler is so keen to write about him.

And this is where the play becomes a gripping thriller that throws twists and turns out to the audience at every given opportunity.

The initial slow pace gathers momentum as surprises lurk at every stop-gap in the story, with Nurse Paisley (Angie Smith) entering the fray as the woman who seems to try to warn Styler that all may not be as it seems.

“It makes the audience think”

And we’re quick to learn that there’s a lot more to proceedings than we bargained for. When the interval arrives we’re very much left on a cliff hanger, which enthuses interest for the rest of the show.

On stage murder, a garden that disappears throughout, and a golden retriever that becomes a werewolf are just a handful of occurrences on stage that gets the mind ticking over.  It’s a play that’s not just called Mindgame because of what’s happening to the characters. It makes the audience think too.

Who do you trust? And who do you believe?

Anthony Horrowitz has certainly written a dark, psychological stage thriller alright in Mindgame.  And as the production draws to a close, we’re introduced to a surprising but clever twist when Easterman gets revealed.  Actual gasps could be heard from the audience, who thought they’d understood the story all along. Yep – me included. But we could not see that one coming.

Three great performers in one great set, delivering one great production.  Mindgame has graced the West End, and there’s no wonder why. It’s one that you talk about when you leave the theatre, and certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Images: Simon Cooper

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