The Short Version: An academic and his student uncover pieces of a lost Hitchcock film while a parallel story of Hitch and Janet Leigh’s body double plays out with shocking Hitch-like twists.
The Review: I love Hitchcock. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you, although I’ve rarely spoken on this forum of my non-literary preferences. Regardless, I believe Hitch to be one of – if not the most talented director ever to work in the medium. I took a class on his films while I was at school in London, I’ve seen most of the greats many times over, and I believe that there is truly no one today who films as innovatively as he did. The layers to his films – the symbolism, the framing of shots, the fact that absolutely nothing was ever wasted in any frame of one of his films… just unparalleled. The way he took the camera and created shots that, even with modern technology, today’s filmmakers literally can’t even imagine… it’s incredible.
Of course, there are differing schools of thought on the man today. Our 21st Century world has retrospectively decried that he may’ve, in fact, been a misogynist and psychologically disturbed. Personally, I think that’s bullshit – sometimes, we need to just let geniuses (or genii…) be geniuses and not overanalyse the reasons behind what they did. Hitch made an incredible canon of films and broke every possible convention in the doing so. My god, the “Hitchcock Blonde” is a thing – people understand that concept in a very specific way. Few other filmmakers get to the point where they have something associated with them in such a way… let alone having many things associated with them, as Hitch does.
But I digress. The play. There’s a great play inside of this play, to be certain. The problem is, it never quite rises to the surface. The ‘modern’ plot – 1999, somewhere in Greece, seven reels of film discovered – is laughable at best. Older man seduces his student after convincing her to come on this ‘expedition’ to examine the reels… she falls for him, he emotionally betrays her, etc etc. It’s unnecessary at best and often rather frustrating. Still, some of the dialogue about Hitch is intriguing – why the blondes, why were they rarely natural blondes, what was his thing for them?
The most entertaining and interesting pieces come from Hitch and The Blonde back in the 50s, while they were shooting Psycho. This is where the play should’ve come from – creating a strange phantasmagorical look into a weird, psycho-sexual, vaguely creepy universe of Hitchcockian menace that cropped up around the shooting of that seminal film. The Blonde has some great monologues and her interactions with Hitch are strangely fascinating – even the awkward sexual encounter near the end has some promise, although it’s poorly executed. The story with her mute Husband, too, has a lot of creepy-weird promise. It’s a little shlocky, though, as/is. I did appreciate the wink to the audience about screaming near the end of the play and I think that moment (which made me gasp) would’ve been utterly shocking onstage.
Rating: 3 out of 5. Such promise without the execution. There are some awesome visual opportunities here – both with the staging and with the design. It’s just a shame that the play itself leaves you wanting quite a bit more. It doesn’t live up to either of its namesakes and that’s a tragedy. I would love to see someone write a play about Hitch that really captures his macabre spirit – of course, maybe that can’t be captured on a stage. The Master worked in film, after all – and there’s been no one like him since.