Back Door, theSpaces @ The Radisson, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
The Off-Off-Off Broadway Company
Polis Loizou (writer), Eleanor Field (design)
Laura Louise Baker (Tabitha), Jaacq Hugo (Violette), Polis Loizou (John)
Running time

Hitchcock was a master director of gripping, thrilling movies. In Rear Window, a photographer is confined to his New York apartment with a broken leg. He spends his time looking out his window and begins to suspect that a man living opposite may have murdered his wife. Unable to move, he enlists the help of his girlfriend to investigate.

The Off-Off-Off Broadway Company was inspired by the simple theatricality of the plot which takes place in one room – the perfect intimate drama for a Fringe show.

But they were wise indeed not to adapt the film, revitalising James Stewart and Grace Kelly from screen to stage. Instead, Polis Loizou has written a fresh and imaginative homage to Hitchcock, as well as being a new play in its own right.

Only the central idea of the film’s plot is preserved, with time period, characters and murder mystery all completely original.

The setting is 1920s Paris, the art deco living room of an apartment where Tabitha, a British Foreign Correspondent lives with John, a wealthy, fashionable American socialite. He has just returned from a gay time in Monaco (a neat reference perhaps to Grace Kelly).

Due to an unfortunate accident, falling down steps in Montmartre after a few drinks, Tabby (as he calls her), is trapped at home, her right foot in plaster. She has Le Bulletin newspaper, a bottle of red wine and a pair of binoculars to spy on her neighbours, to keep her amused.

And so the intrigue starts to evolve. Who is the reclusive black bearded war veteran, and the dark haired woman who has just moved into a flat across the courtyard.? This is Violette,* a tall, exotic, gender-bending nightclub dancer, whom John simply adores.

(*Violette is based on Barbette, the American trapeze drag act of 1920s Paris).

Tabatha becomes intrigued - infatuated - with Violette; who is she, French, American, male, female,? - as well as her dance partner and lover, Frederick. Sitting at the window, with binoculars and camera, she watches what goes on behind their curtains.

This is an ambitious production with beautifully shot, black and white silent movie extracts, and authentic period costumes (panama hat, two tone shoes, black taffeta frock et al). The fast paced plot is like a melodrama, rich in sharp sardonic humour, played out by a trio of cool comedic performances from Laura Louise Baker, Jaacq Hugo and Polis Loizou.

To give an idea of the script, think of a blend of Woody Allen (Manhattan Murder Mystery), and Agatha Christie’s madcap upper class sleuths, Tommy and Tuppence.

Relish the scintillating witty dialogue, moody, menacing ambience oozing with Gatsbyesque glamour. It’s like an ice chilled French 75 champagne cocktail, sparkling, dry with a sharp, bittersweet finish.

Show times:
18 – 23 August @ 1.55pm.
Ticket prices: £8.00 (£6.50)