Thursday, 14 January 2016

Review: 'Hapgood' by Tom Stoppard

Hi everyone,

I went to see the sell out production of 'Hapgood' by Tom Stoppard at Hampstead Theatre. I went to see this at the end of December, and it was a thoughly enjoyable and mind boggling evening.


Hapgood - Lisa Dillon
Ridley - Gerald Kyd
Blair - Tim McMullan
Kerner - Alec Newman
Wates - Gary Beadle
Maggs - Nick Blakeley
Merryweather - Edward Hancock
Joe - Sasha Grey or Adam Cansfield
The Russian - Joe Evans

Hapgood is a female spy working for British Intelligence, who also just happens to have a son. She is put in charge of a briefcase swap, which takes place at a local swimming pool; but it goes wrong. The swap goes wrong, as they twins operating on the swap. Also, operating on the swap was Kerner and inside his briefcase was a bleep, and this was being tracked by Wates. Kerner's briefcase had also been booby-trapped by Wates with a radioactive deodorant, and when we actually meet Hapgood its Kerner's briefcase she is holding.

  Following the briefcase swap, an investigation takes place & it turns out Kerner is clean because Ridley did the swap. But, Washington want Kerner taken off everything and his career as an agent is over; but his career as a Physicist isn't. The Americans are spending millions of dollars within the UK to fund Kerner's SDI research, but it turns out that he has been swapping briefcases with the Russians. While doing the briefcase swap it was Kerner who delivered the case to Ridley, and then Ridley delivered the case to Hapgood.

Act Two begins with a meeting which takes place between Hapgood, Blair and Ridley, and they are interviewing Kerner regarding some photographs that are part of the anti-matter programme. Kerner is running the anti-matter programme alongside the Centre for Nuclear Research in Geneva, and Livermoor Research in California. The photographs that have been intercepted went through both labs, and also the SDI office within the Pentagon, and then they travelled by embassy courier to Grosvenor Square and then they were also copies sent to the Defense Liaison Committee. They were fifteen copies made in Hapgood's office - nine American and six British. The British copies have white patches to show the erasure of the circular number that is printed on each page, and then Washington add an American Circulation prefix. The photos which were intercpeted came from Moscow.

  Later on during the day Hapgood finds out that Joe has been kidnapped, and they want to trade for Kerner's anti-particle trap, which is a disc full of physics. They agree to do the swap, but Hapgood gives Blair the dummy disc from Ridley's briefcase. Also, Blair had missed the contact with the kidnappers and Hapgood picked up on this; and this is because the kidnappers used Interflora.
  Ridley goes to see Hapgood's twin, but Ridley is also a twin who goes by the name of Ernest and he is a photographer. Whereas, Hapgood's twin doesn't stop talking, doesn't look great, and who is also a pot head who just happens to be growing the stuff in a window box. Ridley's twin offers Hapgood's twin £2000, but for everytime she swear he will burn £50.
  Ridley's twin and Hapgood twin go undercover in Hapgood's office to retrieve Kerner's disc, and this will be used in exchange for Joe.
  When the exchange for Joe takes place both Hapgood and Ridley discover that Blair has been for the KGB, aswell as British Intelligence, and it turns out that Hapgood and her team of British Intelligence have just been keeping the KGB in business.

Act One of 'Hapgood' was very interesting to watch, especially with the briefcase swap because no one in the audience uderstood what was actually going on. The only way to gain an understanding of whats exactly happening during the opening scene is if you read the three pages of stage direction within the play text, and by doing so the opening scene starts to make some sort of sense.

Act Two isn't as intense as the first, but its still interesting and complicated. My favourite part of the second act  is when Hapgood's twin and Ridley's twin meet for the first time, and he offers her £2000 to do as she's told, and for everytime she swears he will burn £50.

'Hapgood' is an interesting production to watch because all of the answers that are needed to actually understand the aren't written in black and white, which means as a member of the audience you have to look beyond the script to start gaining an understanding of the plot.

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