Hello everyone! My name is Dan Caprera and I am delighted to be playing the eponymous Inspector Hound in PST’s upcoming production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound, directed by the inimitable Bradley Wilson. As a guest artist, I only got on campus a few weeks ago, but I quickly jumped into PST’s twelve hour rehearsal schedule with aplomb and fierce, driving ambition.
This specific play was of particular interest to me since I have been interested in the cliched, formulaic construction of “traditional” murder mysteries for many years. One of the most interesting elements about The Real Inspector Hound is the ways in which it thoroughly and handily upends the conventions of the stereotypical Agatha Christie whodunnit. More precisely, this play acts as a way for Stoppard to lampoon Agatha Christie’s presentation of the “unsolvable” mystery.
In many conventional Agatha Christie novels, the mystery is “unsolvable” because Christie has methodically worked to violate the audience’s predetermined conceptions as to how the mystery should work. In And Then There Were None, she plays with fixed chronology; in Murder on the Orient Express, she plays with duplicity of motive; in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, she upends the genre’s language itself. (I’d be more specific, but I’d hate to give away the ending - it is a fantastic novel.)
But in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound, Stoppard appears to be less concerned with the nitty-gritty rhetorical/chronological concerns that Christie obsessed over. In Stoppard’s own words, the play primarily depicts “the dangers of wish fulfillment;” he is less concerned with the more mechanical, formulaic elements of the genre, and is instead interested in the complex human emotions that Christie herself primarily glossed over. The Real Inspector Hound is an unsolvable mystery primarily because Stoppard upends the genre’s need to have an unsolvable mystery at all. And (as a rising senior in Princeton’s English Department) I thought that was pretty cool of him to do...
Working on this play has been a delight, and if you enjoy watching the show even 1/10th as much as I enjoyed working on it, you will have a fantastic night out! Enjoy the show!