One of the hardest things for an actor is holding the audience’s interest alone on stage without speaking – and for the first few minutes of ‘Forget-Me-Knot’, that is exactly the task of Simon Lynch; not only does he rise to the challenge admirably, but his shambling entrance, awkward removal and dropping of coat, faux-important shuffling of papers on his desk and frustrated wait for his unseen colleague to answer the phone immediately give us the nature of his character, and are a triumph of talented acting and the skilled directing of Steve Reading.
By the time we meet the recipient of his next phone call, the abrupt, arrogant Mrs Zeinfeld, played superbly by Helen Reading, we are drawn into the confused and confusing world of Detective Inspector Munroe, and the hilarity has already begun.
We can sympathise to an extent with the Inspector’s difficulties: he has on his hands a man who appears to be Robert Zeinfeld, but who has apparently lost his memory, is in the wrong town and may or may not be recognised by his wife. Drew Adcock as Robert (or not...) is an excellent foil to the Inspector’s impatience to get the bottom of the mystery, as he by turns complies meekly with his questioning and shows his own frustration at being told he is, then is not Robert. The quick-fire exchanges between the two are a highlight of the play, including such lines as: ‘The balls may ache, but that’s no excuse for letting grammar slip.’
The staging supports the play’s fast pace perfectly: the main stage is split to depict two separate rooms in the police station which are alternately lit to provide a smooth transition between scenes, while a small thrust stage houses the few domestic scenes, primarily giving us an insight into another of the Inspector’s problems – his relationship with his busy doctor wife, played with a perfect mixture of authority and panic by Amy Burns, who is reluctant to come to the station to give her medical opinion on the apparent amnesiac – until his name is mentioned...
Who is the mystery caller to Robert’s phone? Why does Mrs Zeinfeld identify this man as her husband and then claim she has never seen him before? What is the significance of topiary pheasants – I mean peacocks? And frying pans? Is the real Robert Zeinfeld in Leicester or Blackpool?
To find out, you’ll have to come along to see this very funny play at The Apollo Theatre. You’ll be as confused as the Inspector – but considerably more entertained and amused.
‘Forget-Me-Knot’ will be performed tonight, and then next Tuesday to Friday inclusive; shows start at 7.30pm and are kindly sponsored by the Vectis Sunrise Rotary Club.