Expect a dark and twisting thriller when Anthony Horowitz’s Mindgame takes to the stage at Southsea’s Kings Theatre (May 7-11).
Mark Styler, a writer of glossy true-crime paperbacks, has no idea what he’s walking into when he tries to get an interview with Easterman, a notorious serial killer. First he has to get past Dr Farquhar, the quixotic head of Fairfields – the asylum where Easterman is kept. But soon he discovers that nothing is what it seems.
Andrew Ryan is delighted to return to the role of Styler.
“We did the play last year and we did the West End,” says Andrew, just before going back into rehearsals for the show: “We haven’t done it for nearly a year now. I have been revising by looking at the script, and it is amazing how much disappears, just the small things. You have got to think what you say next! But it will basically be a case of revising and polishing little bits. There are so many words, so many twists and turns that you can perhaps approach in a different way so that every night is perhaps slightly different while the words obviously remain the same. Last year in the West End, 20 minutes before the West End opening, we were on the stage and still slightly changing the ending! I couldn’t believe that there were only 20 minutes to go and we were still working on it!” And now they are back: “I have done a few shows where you go back having had a long period off or get invited to do it again. It is always interesting to go back, especially with this one where the words are so involved. I would not say exactly convoluted, but there are a lot of words, a lot of things to remember… which is good because it means it is something you could never get bored of.
“I play this crime writer. He has written books before about serial killers and he has decided that he is going to write another. He goes to Fairfields Institute for the Criminally Insane. He pitches up, hoping to speak to the serial killer, but first he has got to get past Dr Farquhar. Dr Farquhar is a tricky character, and we also meet a nurse and there is something slightly strange about her.
“And needless to say, it all goes horribly wrong. My character has a very, very bad day! It all starts slowly and then it cranks up and then slowly it is ‘This really isn’t very good at at!” Actually, I don’t think anybody has a good day!”
The key to playing thrillers is to believe in them, Andrew says: “You have got to really commit to what is happening and really believe in it. You have got to commit to it so that the audience really commits to it. It becomes like a mass hallucination.
“There is also the intricacy of the writing. Anthony Horowitz is such a clever writer.” And watch out for the set too. It will start changing subtly. Keep your eyes peeled… and there is significance there as well…
“The play was rewritten for Tom Conti to do, and it is the rewritten version that we are doing which has never been done before because Tom Conti didn’t do it in the end. We have come back to it and have done the revised version.”