A ”brilliant comedy thriller”, according to the New York Post. So it says on the programme, and I don’t mind borrowing that accolade. Just around the corner from Finsbury Park station, the studio above the café at the Park Theatre provides an intimate setting for this hilarious take on the old comedic device of identical twins and mistaken identities. The twins in question are a “resting” actor with no money and his miserly brother with loads of money. Can the one bump off the other, assume his identity, and assume his wealth? A dastardly plan! But will it work?
I won’t give that away. But this could easily have been “the play that goes wrong” for some of the antics on the stage (or rather the floor – the studio is too small for a stage). Real eggs are fried, a real pancake is tossed, a swordfight is so realistic that, sitting at the front within a few feet of the actors, I almost had to duck. All these physical stunts are carried off with great aplomb. The revolving set too is brilliantly conceived and executed. On one side we have the shabby apartment of the louche and impecunious actor, on the other the fashionable residence of his hated and hateful brother, both equipped with cabinets and closets into and out of which the characters can conceal themselves or emerge at opportune moments.
Tom York puts in a star turn as the identical twins. How he manages to swap the roles when both brothers are supposed to be in the same room at the same time, is an amazing feat of acting and stage direction. And as befits the thwarted actor whom he plays, he is good at spoofing Shakespearean characters like Richard III and Hamlet. The supporting cast are also very good. There is the whiskey-sodden Irish con man who is conned into aiding and abetting the actor brother’s ingenious plan – which is even more ingenious than he thinks. There is the comfortably-built landlady with a fund of malapropisms and a fondness for a tipple and for the actor brother. And there is the stolid police constable who turns up at the wrong time.
This is definitely a production worth turning up for. With its witty dialogue and twists and turns of plot, an entertaining and absorbing comedy thriller indeed.