Defective Inspector: A Stitch in Time – Camden Fringe 2023, Hen & Chickens Theatre

Reviewer: Adam Stevenson

Writer: Harrison Cole

Director: Shannon Fox

Defective Inspector: A Stitch in Time is the time-hopping comedy sequel to Defective Inspector. Luckily, for audience members who hadn’t caught the first one, there’s a quick recap at the beginning to catch up with all they need to know to follow this story, which is surprisingly clear for one featuring time travel.

Harrison Cole plays Richard P. Cooper, a bumbling British sleuth and hack-novelist. He’s finished turning his real escapades into pot-boiling novels and is moving into writing fiction about himself and entering the unknown world of sci-fi. Part Sam Spade, part Mr. Tumble, the clueless Clouseau holds the piece together with a succession of bad puns, alliteration and metaphor (at one point he gives himself a metaphor-gasm). He must travel through the time-tangle to stop the dictatorial rise of a dastardly dog.

Three other people play those he encounters on his escapade. Daniel Hemsley’s roles include a ‘cockerney’ terminator and the arch-villain, a three-legged terrier called Mayor Fluffington. Francesca Eldred plays a no-nonsense policewoman and a range of assassins whilst Ellie Church plays a future scientist and a ditzy Eva Braun.

The play seems to think that Nazis are inherently funny, a mistake which leads to some jokes that are in poorer taste than probably intended by so light a piece. However, the jokes come fast and varied. There are some Mischief Theatre shenanigans with a pair of rogue handcuffs, a lot of fun with a fake moustache and puns for days. The most successful element is Cooper’s narrations, which relish wordplay and tortured not-quite-there metaphors like a gumshoe Garth Marenghi.

Props include a souped-up future-ladle and a flip-chart super-computer, whilst useful paper captions help the audience know when and where they are (and provide added jokes). The time travel ‘effect’ is a running gag and the final confrontation has fun with slo-mo acting. There’s a soundtrack by Yellowlees and Slug_Machine, which gleefully parodies The Terminator, Escape from New York and other film themes.

Special mention must also go to whoever designed the poster. Not only is it beautiful but it recreates the feeling of choosing a film at Blockbuster for the cover art, only to find the contents don’t quite live up to it.

Runs until 27 August 2023

Camden Fringe runs until 27 August 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Sam Spade would dig it

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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