Douglas Adams, famed for his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (1978), the iconic satirical science fiction novel every geek must have read at least twice in their lifetime (probably explaining the over 14 millions copies it sold). Nearly ten years after, Adams wrote his second novel – Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987). Much less known, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, takes its genesis from two 'Doctor Who' episodes, written by Douglas Adams himself, and classifies itself as a humorous detective, though Adams much preferred “thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic”. Following this last description, the play did it spot on. From Tom Hindle's (Dirk Gently) clumsy agitation to Sophie Mackay's (Rachel McDuff) confused defiance – every actor on stage fully embraces their characters' maximum dramatic capacity and manage to make every single silly joke seem hilarious. Since the play is overflowing with a wide range of them, it truly is impossible not to find anything to your liking.
The Professor of Chronology, who plays a major role in both the book and the play, is brilliantly portrayed by Leonie Findlay. Her quirkiness and facial expressions transform the character from just an ordinary person on stage to one for whom it is impossible not to have a soft spot. She appears so at ease on the stage, it wouldn't surprise me if her living-room was considered her corner on stage. Though at first the arrangement of the décor seemed a bit crammed, too messy and too disorganized to peacefully watch the play unfold. I have come to realise it was necessary for the timeline (and the alibis) of the story to make sense. These, however, only come into effect in Act II. The readers of the book (and the play's description) must have already known that at some point the play would turn into a murder mystery that needed solving from (obviously) the detective. It took however close to an hour for this revelation to take please, leaving the audience with too much time without having a clear direction to look for clues, thereby missing some essentials. After the interval the play jumps straight to the solving of the mystery without properly introducing a key element to the second act in the first act.
Once of the best parts to which I must give credit, is the projection Designer Alexander Mohan Morzeria-Davis. A necessary element for the storyline of the play, but also employed humorously as clarifications. It was also really nice to see the technical team (Technical Manager – Rhys Seeburger, and Lighting Designer – MJ Harman) at the end represented on the big screen as well. To: The Audience. Saving human race from total extinction – no charge.
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency runs at Bedlam Theatre until 26 November 2019.