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“Brilliant - taut, beautifully expressed, very believable”
"A tour de force - a thrilling production."
“Thanks for the great show last night, really enjoyed it. Twists, turns, tickles and tension.”
Spinning Wheel Theatre came to the Corn Hall in April of last year, with Jim Cartwright’s Two. On that occasion, I recall being hugely impressed by great acting and excellent stagecraft, and looked forward to seeing the company perform in a play that really showcased their skills.
Anthony Horowitz’s Mindgame proved to be exactly that - a preposterous twisty turny puzzle in the spirit of Death Trap or Sleuth. For the most part a two-hander, Joe Leat was particularly good as the curious author with dark secrets, ably complemented by Tom Leeper, playing a man with secrets that were blacker still. Setting aside a couple of early run hiccoughs, both of them had a sureness and lightness of touch notwithstanding the grim subject matter. Without turning the play into an outright farce, they’ve worked with director Amy Wyllie to draw humour out of what is, after all, a ludicrous scenario, enabling the audience to laugh with the play, not at it.
This was a fast-paced, rollicking rollercoaster of a play, a great example of what touring theatre can do, and quite simply the best night at the theatre I can recall in a long time.
The Diss Express - David Vass, Monday 20th October 2014
A crime writer visits an asylum, apparently to interview a serial killer but it is clear from the very beginning that things are not quite what they seem. Perfectly timed for the darkening days, Spinning Wheel Theatre’s production of Anthony Horowitz’s Mindgame wraps coils of plot around the audience in an enthralling constriction which unnerves as much as it entertains.
A tale set within a single space and time frame may suggest a plot which slowly builds to a single crescendo but Mindgame is built on shifting sands which constantly deceive and mislead the audience. The performances of Joe Leat as the writer Styler, and Tom Leeper as Dr Farquhar gripped from the start, the tension they created garotting terror from the narrative and enthralling the near capacity John Peel Centre audience. The mental and emotional struggle which developed between them was brutal, despite rarely becoming physical, and Leat’s humiliating disintegration from terse, swaggering author to shambling, confused chaotic was an engrossing reduction, provoked by Leeper’s chilling switches from leering banter to psychotic confrontation.
There was a feeling of ambition to this production in which the use of jarring, unsettling music felt more like a movie soundtrack than a theatrical score. It worked equally well whether pointing the emotional direction of the action or counterpointing what was being said. Similarly having Leat wait on stage for fully ten minutes before the house lights went down and then, even when they had, having him not speak for several minutes more, was a brave choice by Director Amy Wyllie but one which prompted the unsettling atmosphere of expectation which made this production so enjoyable.
Whilst when reviewing a production of this type it might normally be considered impolite to include plot spoilers in the case of Mindgame this is not strictly necessary as such were its strengths and pace that even a thorough knowledge of the plot would barely detract from the enjoyment. Nevertheless I will limit myself to saying that the twists are difficult to spot until they are upon you and the finale deliciously ambiguous. A genuine thriller and perfect theatrical fare for this time of year.
InSuffolk Magazine - Steve Hawthorne, 24th October 2014
Arts Council England
Diss Town Council
Suffolk Community Foundation
Suffolk County Council