The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock, originally an award-wining radio play and adapted for New Perspectives by David Rudkin, promises to give a unique look at the iconic filmmaker.
The play unfolds in a series of nonlinear set pieces showing Hitchcock at various key stages of his life. Reference is made to, implicitly and explicitly, Psycho, Vertigo, Marnie, and Strangers on A Train among others, but it is the ‘Lovesong' of the title that this play primarily seeks to engage; what made Hitch tick?
Martin Miller as Hitchcock puts in a very strong performance. He ably conjures up his subject without impersonating or parodying. There is a clever bit of business at the end of the first half where he engages directly with the audience, house lights up, which was the standout moment of the play.
He is ably assisted by the excellent Roberta Kerr, who plays both Hitch's mother and his wife, Alma. She is one of the highlights of an otherwise somewhat drab second half and it is a shame she didn't feature more heavily.
There is a stream of consciousness feel to the performance as a whole that would benefit from being reined in at times and some of the dialogue is overlong. Otherwise Jack McNamara's direction is spot on.
Anthony Wise and Tom McHugh offer support in a number of doubled roles, but somewhat less effectively. In part this is due to the lines they were given, but one or two of the accents adopted were not quite perfect which didn't help.
The all-white set is appropriately sparse, suiting the dreamlike nature of the play, and the movie-screen backdrop is used to strong dramatic effect. Sound consists of some appropriately filmic noises and effects but the lighting is a bit more of a mixed bag; sometimes the action was a little hard to follow in near-darkness.
Overall this play is interesting, with some wonderful moments and strong performances from Martin Miller and Roberta Kerr, but is perhaps overlong and at times unfocused, particularly in the second half.
- William Breden