The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard
The first performance of The Real Inspector Hound was given on June 17, 1968 at the Criterion Theatre, London. It was directed by Robert Chetwyn and designed by Hutchinson Scott.
Moon Richard Briers
Birdboot Ronnie Barker
Mrs. Drudge Josephine Tewson
Simon Robin Ellis
Felicity Patricia Shakesby
Cynthia Caroline Blakiston
Magnus Antony Webb
Inspector Hound Hugh Walters
Select Production History
1968 London Premier, Criterion Theatre
1972 London Revival with After Magritte, Dolphin Company at the Shaw Theatre, London, directed by Nigel Gordon
1972 New York Premier with After Magritte at Theater Four, directed by Joseph Hardy
1974 Chicago Premier at the Forum Theater
1974 West Coast Premier at South Coast Repertory
1976 London Revival, Young Vic Theatre, with If You're Glad, I'll Be Frank
1985 London Revival, National Theatre, directed by Stoppard
1992 First Broadway production at the Criterion Theatre Stage Right with The 15-Minute Hamlet
1998 London revival at Comedy Theatre with Craig Schaffer's Black Comedy, directed by Greg Doran
Select Publication History
Stoppard, T. (1968). The real inspector hound. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Stoppard, T. (1968). The real inspector hound. New York, NY: Samuel French.
Stoppard, T. (1969). The real inspector hound. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Stoppard, T. (1975). The real inspector hound and after magritte: Two plays. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Stoppard, T. (1979). The real inspector hound. Boston: Faber and Faber.
Stoppard, T. (1993). The real inspector hound: And other entertainments. Boston: Faber and Faber.
Stoppard, T. (1996). Plays. (Vol. 1). Boston: Faber and Faber.
Reviews of first production (links are to full-text articles; UW-restricted)
Barnes, C. (1968, July 8). The theater: Playwrights and critics: London sees works by Stoppard and Marcus about mama's boys and wish fulfillment. The New York Times, p. 45.
Esslin, M. (1968, July 14). Two trifles and a failure'. The New York Times, p. D4.
Wardle, I. (1968, June 19). New light comedy by Tom Stoppard playing in London. The New York Times, p. 38.
Levenson, J. (1971). Views from a revolving door: Tom Stoppard's canon to date. Queen's Quarterly, 78, 431-442.
Abstract: Detailed studies of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and The Real Inspector Hound, Stoppard's most complex plays, show a direct correlation between dramatic format and theme. Like Stoppard's other plays, these are governed by an argument which explores possible solutions to a problem ultimately to reject them and leave the problem unresolved.
Walls, K. (2005). The "magnus effect": Names in the real inspector hound. English Language Notes, 43(2), 180-192.
Abstract: This author argues that Tom Stoppard's naming of his characters in The Real Inspector Hound is supremely relevant to the purposes of the play as a whole. The author describes Moon and Birdboot, the first characters of the play. He notes that the name Hound proves misleading when Magnus claims to be the real inspector. The author emphasizes that there is an aptness in the names used by Stoppard with regards to the play's disorienting confusion of its theatrical and real worlds.
Carlson, M. (1993). Is there a real inspector hound? Mousetraps, deathtraps, and the disappearing detective. Modern Drama, 36(3), 431-442.
Abstract: Examines the play The Real Inspector Hound, by Tom Stoppard. Parody of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap; background of mystery plays in England as represented by both plays; use of double-coding in postmodernist plays; reason behind the selection of The Mousetrap as the central target of Stoppard's parody; more.
Özdemir, E. (2004). Context and perspective in five Stoppard plays: A theater of ‘unreality'. English Studies, 85(5), 417-436.
Excerpt: By focusing on the plurality and shifts in context and perspective which form the structural and thematic axes in three major and two notable minor works by Stoppard, the present study aims to investigate the advertised fictionality, or the relative unreality of each fictional level in his drama (Rayner 150; James 30), and the dissolution of fictional, perceptual and conceptual boundaries resulting from such interplay and relativization of reality and fiction. (p. 417)
Brassell, T. (1985). Tom Stoppard: An assessment. Tim Brassell. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Excerpt: Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Real Inspector Hound is concerned with the nature of theatre. The earlier play extracts characters from the confines of Hamlet and re-houses them in a different context which nevertheless requires them to continue their performance. In a comparable way, The Real Inspector Hound utilizes the idea of the 'play within a play'. As two critics watch a particularly poor (and, unintentionally, extremely funny) thriller, correspondences gradually emerge between themselves and the characters in the play, until finally Stoppard breaks down the barriers between the two and the critics themselves start to take part in the thriller. (p.93)
Corballis, R. (1984). Stoppard, the mystery and the clockwork. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Amber Lane Press; New York: Methuen.
Excerpt: ...I do want to stress that the main thrust of the plot—the hoisting of moon and Birdboot with their own petards—accords with Stoppard's usual practice of foiling, discouraging or criticizing all attempts to escape from the 'mystery' of life into a 'clockwork' world of dreams. As he himself put it, in 'Ambushes for the Audience', the play is 'about the dangers of wish fufilment'. (p. 54)
Crossley, B.M. (1986). An investigation of Stoppard's hound and foot. In H. Bloom (Ed.), Modern critical views: Tom Stoppard (pp. 15-24). New York: Chelsea House.
Excerpt: Questions of recognition and reality provide the central mystery of The Real Inspector Hound. In terms of the detective story, the title appears to make it plain what this work is to be about. The sleuth as a kind of "bloodhound" is a hunting phrase long since ridden to death. Yet, beyond this cliché is the title's ambiguous suggestions of an inspector who is, somehow, not real. By creating a play-within-a-play, Stoppard produces a kind of double vision which challenges the validity of the real itself. (p. 16)
Dean, J.F. (1981). Tom Stoppard: Comedy as a moral matrix. Columbia: University of Missouri Press.
Excerpt: The expectations that the audience brings to Hound are clearly more important than the events that transpire at Muldoon Manor. As in Rosencrantz, Stoppard here demonstrates a clear willingness to consciously manipulate audience reaction—principally by establishing the validity of the conventions of drama (specifically those concerning the whodunit) and then flagrantly violating them. (p. 46)
Durham, W.B. (1987). Ritual of riddance in Tom Stoppard's the real inspector hound. In J. Harty (Ed.), Tom Stoppard: A casebook (pp. 89-104). New York: Garland.
Excerpt: Far from stopping "annoyingly short of examining the implications of its central premise," as C. W. Bigsby maintains, The Real Inspector Hound is wholly and completely responsive to its purgative-redemptive motive. Without denying Stoppard's parodic aims, this essay demonstrates that, in addition to being a barbed satire and a somewhat less successful exposition of a view of the relationship between theater and life, the play is fully comprehensible as a ritual of riddance. (p. 102)
Fleming, J. (2001). Stoppard's theatre: Finding order amid chaos. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001
Not a lot about The Real Inspector Hound, but there is an excellent production history and a select bibliography including Stoppard's works, interviews, and secondary works such as biographies, bibliographies, and critical studies.
Kelly, K.E. (1991). Tom Stoppard and the craft of comedy: Medium and genre at play. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Excerpt: Perhaps because of its greater simplicity, Hound reveals to us more clearly than Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Stoppard's method for writing well-crafted plays: begin with a formula, expose it, appear to abandon it, then circle back and pick it up again suddenly, surprising the spectator with a denouement both familiar and unexpected. (p. 86)
Jenkins, A. (1989). The theatre of Tom Stoppard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Excerpt: The problem with Hound, and why it seems the least satisfactory of all Stoppard's plays, is that the theatrical whodunit tends to be transparently banal in the first place, so that to parody its emptiness simply restates the obvious. (p. 51)
Londré, F.H. (1981). Tom Stoppard. New York: F. Ungar Publishing Company.
Excerpt: What the play is about, according to Stoppard, is the dangers of wish fulfillment. ... If this is truly what the play is about, then the work is rather flimsy, for this theme is not readily apparent, nor is it developed in any way or treated on any level other than that of situation. (p.119)
Mason, J. D. (1987). Foot-prints to the moon: Detectives as suspects in hound and magritte. In J. Harty (Ed.), Tom Stoppard: A casebook (pp. 105-119). New York: Garland.
Excerpt: The playwright investigates the audience's beliefs, assuming the role of mock-detective in order to accuse us of investing our own detective status with naïve trust. We believe in a rational world that permits us to control our destiny and maintain our privacy; Stoppard reveals life as uncontrollably absurd, characterized by ubiquitous but futile detection. (p.118)
Sammells, N. (1988). Tom Stoppard: The artist as critic. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Excerpt: This is not simply a satirical expose of the inanities of 'Christielised' melodrama. We are offered no stable viewpoint, no uncountered or destructured position from which the tired formulae of the whodunnit can be seen as any more ridiculous than those which are being used to judge it. We are even denied a meta-language with which we can describe The Real Inspector Hound as a whole. (p.59)
Schluetez, J.M. (1986). Moon and birdboot, rosencrantz and guildenstern. In H. Bloom (Ed.), Modern critical views: Tom Stoppard (pp. 75-86). New York: Chelsea House.
Excerpt: As important as Stoppard's philosophical explorations, however, is his preoccupation with his own art. Stoppard's plays are nonrealistic in form, undisguisedly theatrical, and supremely self-conscious. Indeed, the playwright has succeeded admirably in uniting the innovative form of his plays with their philosophical content, making his ventures into the nature of reality—and illusion—inquiries into the very rationale for art. One of Stoppard's less well-known plays, The Real Inspector Hound, which premiered in London in 1968, is a particularly fine example of how a playwright integrates these concerns through the use of a metafictional character. (p.76)
Turner, B. (2007). Tom Stoppard's the real inspector hound (1968) and the real thing (1982): New frames and old. In G. Fischer and B. Greiner (Eds.), The play within the play: The performance of meta-theatre and self-reflection (pp. 113-127 ). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi.
Excerpt: Tom Stoppard has adapted the conventions of the play within the play frequently in his work, manipulating the relationships between 'inner play' and 'outer play' (and thus those between the audience and the performance) in ways which destabilize the former relationships while leaving intact those implicit in mainstream Western contemporary theatre-going practice. While there is great creativity in Stoppard's staging and his correspondent adaptation of theatrical and literary conventions, tropes and gestures (ranging from a quasi-Brechtian episodicity to the classical contaminatio), the stage-audience dialectic itself is unshaken. Stoppard then offers only the illusion of flux or instability and, while this gesture increases the entertainment value, it lessens the provocation of the theatrical encounter. Considering two plays from different points in Stoppard's career—The Real Inspector Hound (1968) and The Real Thing (1982)—this chapter argues that, while in their various ways they compound generic postmodernist ludic fragmentation, they remain traditional in their core theatrical value. (p. 113)
List of Published Tom Stoppard Plays
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. London: Faber and Faber, 1967; New York:Grove Press, 1967; New York: Samuel French, 1967.
Jumpers. London: Faber and Faber, 1972, revised 1986; New York: Grove Press, 1973.
Travesties. New York: Grove Press, 1975; London: Faber and Faber, 1993.
Every Good Boy Deserves Favor and Professional Foul. New York: Grove Press, 1978.
Night and Day. London: Faber and Faber, 1978; New York: Grove Press, 1979; London: Samuel French, 1979.
Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth. New York: Samuel French, 1980.
The Real Thing. London: Faber and Faber, 1982, revised 1983; Broadway Edition1984; New York: Samuel French, 1984.
Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon. London: Faber and Faber, 1985. (First published1966.)
Artist Descending a Staircase. London: Faber and Faber, 1988. (First published 1973.)
Hapgood. London: Faber and Faber, 1988; Broadway Edition 1994.
Stoppard: The Plays for Radio, 1964 –1983. London: Faber and Faber, 1990. (Contains The Dissolution of Dominic Boot, “M” is for Moon Among Other Things, If You’re Glad I’ll Be Frank, Albert’s Bridge, Where Are They Now?, Artist Descending a Staircase, and The Dog It Was That Died.)
In the Native State. London: Faber and Faber, 1991.
Arcadia. London: Faber and Faber, 1993, reprinted with corrections 1993.
Stoppard: The Television Plays, 1965 –1984. London: Faber and Faber, 1993. (Contains
A Separate Peace, Teeth, Another Moon Called Earth, Neutral Ground, Professional Foul, and Squaring the Circle.)
Indian Ink. London: Faber and Faber, 1995, reprinted with corrections 1995.
The Invention of Love. London: Faber and Faber, 1997; New York: Grove Press, 1998.
Voyage; The Coast of Utopia pt. 1. New York : Grove Press, 2002. First published in 2002 by Faber and Faber, London, England.
Shipwreck; The Coast of Utopia pt. 2. New York : Grove Press, 2002. First published in 2002 by Faber and Faber, London, England.
Salvage; The Coast of Utopia pt. 3. New York : Grove Press, 2002. First published in 2002 by Faber and Faber, London, England.