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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Double Feature
Hampstead Theatre     Spring 2024

A lot is going on in John Logan’s ninety-minute play Double Feature, directed by Jonathan Kent, but you could spend double that time afterwards speculating on its purpose.

Set in a cosy cottage, the story continuously switches between 1964 Los Angeles where Alfred Hitchcock (Ian McNeice) has arranged a session with the actor Tippi Hedren, who will star in his upcoming film Marnie, and Suffolk in 1967 when the actor Vincent Price (Jonathan Hyde) visits Michael Reeves (Rowan Polonski),who is directing him in the film Witchfinder General.

The clearest theme of the performance is Hitchcock’s predatory behaviour towards the young blonde Hedren, which culminates with him suddenly telling her to take off her clothes except for the gloves that hide her eczema and wait for him in the bedroom. He reminds her that her future career depends on whether he later describes her as easy or hard to work with.

Although Joanna Vanderham gives an impressive performance as Hedren, the sequence is crude and artificial.

However, it follows a pattern we see repeated. One character seems to have power over another, only for that to be reversed a few minutes later.

Price and Reeves are uncertain about their future in a changing film industry. Reeves wants to make serious films and is frustrated by the pressure on him to stick with the horror genre.

Having had Price forced on him by US investors, he has found it difficult to be civil to the veteran actor, especially given the man’s tendency to overact. At one point, he warns him not to speak “with all your swishy queer stuff.”

Not surprisingly, Price is on the verge of walking out on the project, except there are signs that the industry may be losing interest in him.

The conversations roll along with many references to films, with a smattering of talk about food, drink and the drugs being taken by Reeves. 

Unfortunately, none of the characters feel real, their words seem more the expression of the writer than the outcome of the story or character, and most frustrating of all, it is difficult to spot the point of the show beyond puzzling its audience

Keith McKenna

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Review of  Double Feature - Hampstead Theatre 2024

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