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A Bit of a Hitch, The Courtyard

Written and directed by Michael Harry

★★★
Pros: A fun and light nod to Alfred Hitchcock and his legendary cinematic oeuvre with just enough tongue-in-cheek perspective on the mild absurdity of some of his plots, themes and characters.
Cons: In the attempt to ‘cram’ as ‘many classic scenes’ as possible into ‘a piece that should however stand up on its own’ (Michael Harry), the plot was less cohesive than I would have liked.
Our Verdict: An entertaining piece that cleverly strings together classic Hitchcock themes and references, satirizing and bringing to life on stage the Hitchcock style in a manner that can be appreciated by all.
Courtesy of English Theatre Company
When I think of classic suspense or thriller films, it seems no wonder that this is not the first we’ve seen of their transfer from silver screen to live stage as spoofs. While acknowledging Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic genius and contribution to the film industry, a modern eye must watch the genre he defined and question the ridiculousness of some of the themes, plots and characters.
A Bit of a Hitch, while paying homage to Hitchcock by referencing scenes in his films that have gone down in cinematic history, cleverly satirizes the characterisation of women (while making them a little bit kick-ass at the same time), villains and Englishness, as well as the rather Shakespearean, out-of-the blue happy endings.
Performed by three talented and seemingly tireless actors who deliver multiple characterisations, the action follows David, a history teacher (Nick Potts) who, having lustily followed a mysterious French woman (Amy Berry) into a night club, is mistakenly kidnapped by an evil villain with one Texan and one hook-handed evil side kick (all three played by Joshua Tobias Mills). They think he is a spy with access to secrets they want. After being interrogated for answers he does not have, David is tossed back out on the streets in front of his home, almost directly into the hands of a mysterious Scottish woman, who, in an attempt to help him, hurls him into a series of events that set him on the run from the authorities and the villains all at once. 
The plot sets the scene for smart gags and sharp jokes regarding the logic and time lines in Hitchcock’s films while the characters serve an excellent instrument for the actors to show off some pretty diverse and distinct characterisations, from dim copper to murderous inn-keeper, and from French cartoon-like seductress to nerdy business woman on the train.
Although the action was full and fast paced it did not quite commandeer the almost completely bare and prop-less stage until the plot really set in about halfway through. However the use of massive puppets appearing from behind the wall to convey a particular chase scene was absolutely genius.
While the script was obviously quite carefully crafted to accommodate and showcase references to Hitchcock’s works, this did not leave room or time to adequately address some interesting plot points such as David’s mobile phone relationship with his ailing mother, and the question of who really is Christine/Charlotte/Catherine and Carol and what does she do? Tying these loose ends together might have brought some more ‘meat’ to the piece.
Despite this however, A Bit of a Hitch, definitely makes for fun and clever theatre – recommended as an enjoyable summer evening of entertainment.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

A Bit of a Hitch runs at The Courtyard Theatre until 28 July 2013.
Box Office: (0)844 477 1000 or book online at http://www.thecourtyard.org.uk/whatson/324/a-bit-of-a-hitch

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