Read The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays by Tom Stoppard Online


Culled from nearly 20 years of the playwright's career, a showcase for Tom Stoppard's dazzling range and virtuosic talent, The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays is essential reading for fans of modern drama. The plays in this collection reveal Stoppard's sense of fun, his sense of theater, his sense of the absurd, and his gifts for parody and satire. They include The ReCulled from nearly 20 years of the playwright's career, a showcase for Tom Stoppard's dazzling range and virtuosic talent, The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays is essential reading for fans of modern drama. The plays in this collection reveal Stoppard's sense of fun, his sense of theater, his sense of the absurd, and his gifts for parody and satire. They include The Real Inspector Hound, After Margritte, Dirty Linen, New-Found-Land, Dogg's Hamlet, and Cahoot's Macbeth....

Title : The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays
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ISBN : 9780802135612
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
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The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays Reviews

  • Ashley
    2019-05-17 04:06

    I am honestly not entirely sure what I thought of this? (NB: I only read The Real Inspector Hound, not any of the other plays.)On the one hand, it was a fun little one act play that took me around twenty minutes to read, and it made me laugh, and it made me go, what the hell? On the other hand, I'm 100% positive I missed things, and the cleverness of this play almost entirely went over my head. I actually read this for Cannonball Read's quarterly online book club, and here's all I could think of to say in our discussion was a bunch of pretentious bullshit about the relationship between art and critics, which I then finished up with, "Or Stoppard could just be fucking with us." (Spoiler: there's a dead body on the stage the whole time which turns out to be a theater critic whose actual body (OR IS IT) is being used as a prop. This is SIGNIFICANT.)The consensus seems to be that this play is both: Pretentious bullshit AND fucking with us. I kinda dig it? I wish I could see it in person, though. Maybe I'll track down that YouTube performance and see how it goes in its proper format . . .

  • Manab
    2019-05-05 06:56

    প্রথম নাটকটা অত্যন্ত ভালো, নাটকে যদি কারো অবিশ্বাস থাকে, তাহলে এই নাটক সেই লুপ্ত বিশ্বাসেরে কতকটা ফিরায়েও আনতে পারে। মঞ্চের এইপাশ ঐপাশ চতুর্পাশকে স্টপার্ড সাহেব মিশায়ে দিয়েছেন ঝানু দক্ষতার সাথে, আর এর সাথে যোগ হয়েছে তাঁর অদ্ভূত হাস্যরস। শেষ দৃশ্যে মেটা বিষয়টারে তিনি এমন এক জায়গায় ঠেলে দিছেন যে বিষয়টা মূলত কমিক না কি আরো অনেক গভীরে কিছু, সেই প্রশ্ন চলে আসে, প্রশ্ন আসে, কমিক কি নিজেই অনেক গভীরের কিছু না?সেই তুলনায় দ্বিতীয় নাটক খুব জমে নাই, কিন্তু সহনীয়ের চেয়ে বেশি, কখনো কখনো প্রথমোক্তের মতই ভালো। তৃতীয় এবং চতুর্থ নাটক মোটের উপর ছাইপাশ, ছাইপাশ এবং বিরক্তিকর। শেষ দুই নাটকে অনেক বিষয় এসেছে, ভিটগেন্সটাইনের ভাষা ভাবনা কতখানি পাকা হাতের একটা নাটক জন্ম দিতে পারে, তা এই দুই নাটক না পড়লে বিশ্বাস করা কঠিন, কিন্তু এই নাটক দুইটা দক্ষতার সাথে লেখা হইলেও স্টপার্ড সাহেবের হাস্যরস অনুপস্থিত এদের বেলায়। গভীর হইছে, কিন্তু কমিক হারায়ে গেছে, অথচ কমিকের চেয়ে গভীর আর কী আছে?হয়ত তেমন না, হয়ত হাস্যরস যথেষ্টই ছিলো, আমি ধরতে পারি নাই। আমি ত অনেক কিছুই ধরতে পারি না, মানুষের হৃদস্পন্দন ধরতে পারি না, নিজের গন্তব্য ঠাহর করতে পারি না, এইদিকে পড়াশুনা চুলায় যাচ্ছে, বইটই কিছুই পড়তে পারতেছি না আপাতত, এর মাঝে অনার্স শেষ করতে না পারার হুমকি, এর মাঝে আবার শেষ করতে পারাটাও ত একটা হুমকি, শেষ করলে এরপর আমি কী করবো? আমি আর ভাবতে পারি না, মাথা ভার হয়ে আসে।

  • Katie
    2019-05-24 04:49

    My immediate takeaway when I finished was that it may be too absurdist for me. But that doesn’t quite grasp the idea I was after. From my limited experience with Stoppard, he is always playing with words, playing with meaning, playing with intent, and has no problem (perhaps prefers) to have his characters speaking at cross purposes. What that does to a reader is leave them with a sense of whiplash and “what the heck just happened?” Or at least, that’s what happens when that reader is me. The Real Inspector Hound is about theatre, critics, reality, and fate. Or it is just a play about two people sitting around waiting for something to happen, like that other one. This is early Stoppard, and I found his introduction to my edition most edifying about his process and what we received as a result. He had bits and pieces of dialogue between the characters who would become Moon and Birdfoot, but they had no purpose. He would come back to it over the years and eventually the device of the body on stage, and that body being Higgs catalyzed Stoppard into its completion. Which makes sense to me that we ramble about a bit and then land on an ending. full review:

  • Ian Johnston
    2019-05-23 05:55

    The Real Inspector Hound is one of Stoppard's finest plays, and this volume has quite a few more gems in it. Hound is one of my favourites for it's blurring the lines between theatre and reality; we watch two critics watching a play who eventually get caught up in the action. It's a comment on the banality of critical reviews, especially for the kind of drama that initially appears to be going on on stage.

  • Greg
    2019-05-04 09:09

    Tom Stop-Hard's play on words is catching. Plays 1: The Real Inspector House was great. Good fun. An hilarious whodunnit. The companion play After Magritte was good fun as well. I enjoyed Dirty Linen / New-Found-Land, which are a good send up of Parliamentary sub-committees. All these so far read well on the page, and I imagine actors would have a great time in these plays.The next two, Dogg's Hamlet and Cahoot's Macbeth are a companion piece. Dogg's Hamlet has to play first. I read half of this and I couldn't make any sense of it, so I didn't proceed to Cahoot's Macbeth. I think these two plays have to be seen to understand it. Probably very good though.

  • Paul LaFontaine
    2019-05-16 07:49

    Two theater critics are drawn into a play about a murder mystery and end up deeply embroiled in the action.I am a Stoppard fan, yet found this play much less crisp and enjoyable as some of his others. The absurd portion of the play (ie critics being drawn into the action) was not super clear and therefore just absurd. At one point I was just scratching my head. Can't recommend (sadly).

  • Ivo Stimac
    2019-05-03 06:43

    The Real Inspector Hound was great and by itself I'd give it a 5. The rest of the plays ranged from alright to bad.

  • Jamie
    2019-04-26 05:56


  • Phillip
    2019-05-02 04:10

    The Real Inspector Hound: This is exactly the kind of fun, light existential comedy that is so characteristic of early Stoppard. It involves the dissolution of identity, the transposition of characters, and a deep-seated uncertainty about the line between real life, theatre, and criticism. Everything is delightfully jumbled, and it is from this jumble that Stoppard helped launch postmodern British drama.After Magritte: Initially I wasn't as sold on this play as The Real Inspector Hound. The setting is much more complex, with a whole counter-weight system, shifting light bulbs between different lamps, and an on-stage furniture re-arrangement. And with the major focus of the early portion of the play being competing theories of this bizarre figure--who might be a one-legged footballer for West Bromich Albion, or a one-legged blind Arab musician with a tortoise--the opening section wasn't super engaging, though the style of this opening portion did remind me of Beckett, especially plays like Endgame or Happy Days. But when the police enter the play picks up, and we end with a great postmodern Stoppard moment.Dirty Linen and New-Found-Land: The farce of Dirty Linen was alright, though it wasn't nearly as clever and self-referential as Stoppard's other plays. The story revolves around a parliamentary sub-committee investigating sexual misconduct among MPs, while each member of the subcommittee tries to cover up their own affair with the woman now serving as the secretary.With New-Found-Land, I get that it was written to honor Ed Berman getting his UK citizenship, but dramatically it didn't seem to make any sense. The short interlude play is essentially just a pointless narrative journey on an imagined train through some portions of the US.Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth: Really interesting playing with language. In the introduction to the play(s), Stoppard says that they were inspired by a Wittgenstein scenario wherein he conceptualized what would happen if several people viewed/participated in a normal day to day scene, but each used words to mean different things. Wittgenstein posits that as long as the words used made comprehensible sense to each participant they would never need know that the others understood the situation entirely differently. So these plays oscillate between Dogg--a language Stoppard has made up, wherein English words have meanings dramatically different from their standard meanings (e.g., "Haddock priest" means "The mike is dead")--Shakespearean dialogue, and contemporary English. The very postmodern idea here is that language can be comprehensibly tied to meaning making regardless of the actual meaning of the words used. So in performance, something like Dogg's Hamlet (which begins with a lengthy scene in Dogg, broken up only slightly by Easy's contemporary English) should be perfectly comprehensible to viewers even though the language is, in actuality, gibberish.

  • John Jr.
    2019-05-07 02:04

    Presented here is the kind of work one imagines a clever young Briton might write upon completing university and going down to London: playful, imaginative, zestful in its learnedness, and above all—did I say this already?—playful. Come to think of it, much of Tom Stoppard’s work may seem like it was produced by someone who accumulated a good store of knowledge in his college years and continued to add to it while playing with it in his scripts. It’s no surprise to find him concluding his brief introduction, dated 1993, with the observation that “The ‘role of the theatre’ is much debated (by almost nobody, of course), but the thing defines itself in practice first and foremost as a recreation.” Stoppard is one of those dramatists who reminds you of the multiple meanings of the word “play.” But anyone who knows his writing probably will be surprised to learn, as the Wikipedia entry on him reports, that Stoppard never attended university. Clearly, there are some minds so dense that no degree of training will ever force in much light, and there are others so open and absorptive that no lack of formal education will keep them from learning. (Surely that’s been better said somewhere.)In this collection of jeux d’esprit, one will find, among other things: the country-house murder mystery distilled to a quintessence of formulaic silliness; the ambition as well as the self-important writing style of critics—they happen to be theater critics—expanded and whipped into a kind of froth; paintings by Magritte miraculously set in motion (it helps to see a production in which they’re reproduced in a lobby display, as I did); two estimates as to what really goes on behind the close doors of so-called deliberative bodies, where the subject at hand is sex scandals and a citizenship application; a Wittgensteinian conundrum about language dramatized in the context of a Hamlet production; and a takeoff inspired by Stoppard’s discovery that Czech playwright Pavel Kohout and a handful of colleagues, prevented by the government from working in legitimate theaters, prepared a condensed version of Macbeth to be performed in the living room of anyone who invited them.For readers, and quite likely for theatergoers as well, the most appealing of these works is The Real Inspector Hound. It’s a one-act play containing the murder-mystery parody and theater-critics satire I mentioned, along with a line about the skeleton in the closet coming home to roost, and other delights that will go unquoted here. But it’s not without seriousness! It imparts a valuable moral lesson, admittedly not often applicable, but crucial in certain cases: if you’re seated in a theater during intermission and the phone on the stage begins to ring, don’t answer it.To slip into doge: Such play. Amaze!

  • Leslie
    2019-05-04 07:07

    Tom Stoppard is brilliant...and I wish I understood more of his brilliance. "The Real Inspector Hound" is comically farcical. Moon and Birdboot, theatre critics, hold completely parallel conversations that are, nonetheless, intertwined with the play - and actors - they are reviewing. Stoppard's preface states he only had the inspiration for the murder victim's identity well into writing the play. It is remarkably unified. And the sheer joy he took in writing the whole rest of it is obvious.I read "After Magritte" in Brussels just before going to the Magritte Museum. The surreality of the play picks up something essential in the art, although of course they're only tangentially connected. It's kind of a play for a play's sake, without any easily describable plot. Yet, as always, the images are powerful (Mother lying on an ironing board with the iron against her foot, Harris fiddling with a light fixture weighted by a fruit bowl). And the central - massive - confusion derives from a humorously long series of individually easily explicable events."Dirty Linen" is funny - and dirty - except it might have a serious moral. It is about a meeting of a special committee of the Home Office about the possibility that many members of the House of Commons have had a compromising affair with a single individual. That individual turns out to be the committee's secretary, and she is semi-surreptitiously involved with every member of the committee. They have a series of conversations about covering up their activities, explaining them to the British public, whose business it is, and whether anyone cares."New-Found-Land" didn't make sense to me. It interrupted "Dirty Linen" to expostulate on differences between England and the U.S., with a very rosy, train-window perspective on the U.S."Dogg's Hamlet" and "Cahoot's Macbeth" are amazing and deep. They're a theatrical diptych. "Dogg's Hamlet" explores an application of Wittgenstein's philosophy. Easy speaks English, and all the other characters speak Dogg, which substitutes random English words for each other which causes ridiculous misunderstandings. They try to build a wall together, and Easy keeps thinking he's understanding what's going on until the pattern he thinks he's picking up on misfires. "Cahoot's Macbeth" is to tell the story of Czech actors and writers who took to performing reduced plays in private homes as an outlet for their creativity during communism.Obviously, a worthwhile read.

  • John
    2019-04-24 04:10

    This collection of shorter works from the 1970s is among the better Tom Stoppard I've read. The title piece, a send-up of Christie-style whodunnits, is a seamless work of beauty which effectively blurs the line between performers, audience, and the critics who attempt to mediate between them. Both a poke at the formulaic structure of "classic" murder mysteries as well as a dig at theater critics, "The Real Inspector Hound" is non-stop laughs. Although the word "clever" is chronically over-used, the mesh between Stoppard's plot and dialogue earns it here.Much the same praise extends to "After Magritte," which succeeds in exemplifying that artist's work. It toys with the dichotomy between appearance and reality, the subjective and the objective. Specifically, the capacity to view one's self objectively is called into question, as is the inevitability of viewing others subjectively."Dirty Linen," is paired with "New-Found-Land," and the two form an inseparable whole. Stoppard has managed to recycle the same setting for two very different stories, one taking place in the middle of the other. Thus, "Dirty Linen," a study of sexual mores as they relate to people (not just men) in positions of power is, effectively split into two scenes. Between these appears "New-Found-Land," an hilarious concentrate of bad American stereotypes, somehow both accurate and ludicrously off-base at the same time.The dog of the bunch here is "Dogg's Hamlet," which is a noble, but failed, experiment in the redefinition and understanding of language. Stoppard effectively demonstrates how language is an act of collusion, but his point is made in the introduction, and the playing out of the scenario quickly becomes tedious as long streams of seemingly unrelated words fly past at a rapid pace. Its companion piece, "Cahoot's Macbeth," is generally much more successful, painting a picture of the absurdity with which totalitarian regimes must live in constant terror of the power of words. Unfortunately, because it is tied in directly to "Dogg's Hamlet," it cannot be separated from that piece in any meaningful way. And by intertwining the two, the end of "Cahoot's Macbeth" comes off a bit muddled and perfunctory, like an engine suddenly running out of steam.Despite the faults which "Dogg's Hamlet" introduces into this volume, based on its contents, it is clear that the overall quality of Stoppard's work during the 1970s was astonishing. Fans of his work should be well-pleased.

  • Ben
    2019-04-28 03:55

    Really enjoyed 'The Real Inspector Hound' and 'After Magritte.' All of the plays were clever and funny, meta and purposefully playing with the conventions of theatre, language, art, and life, but the first two, to me at least, were the most accessible and enjoyable. While I appreciated the commentary on the tendency towards sexual scandal that seems to dog politicians in all countries, it felt mostly like a Monty Python skit. Maybe that just doesn't translate well to paper, but I also think that his commentary was very topical, both to the scandals rocking Parliament at the time, as well as to the immigration issues he was addressing. I also thoroughly enjoyed the playing with language and the deification of Shakespeare in 'Dogg's Hamlet' and 'Cahoot's Macbeth,' just wasn't particularly thrilled with them. The 'Dogg speak' throughout the first play is intelligent and insightful, and truly speaks to the relativity of conveying meaning (maybe even the viral nature of speech habits), but would be maddening to actually see performed. And while I'm sure that some of the confusion and lack conveyed meaning could be overcome through demonstrative acting, I still think that much of the understanding would be lost in performance. Of course, that is surely part of what Stoppard was attempting to do with the piece, to challenge the audience to truly pay attention and to try and understand what was going on (maybe even to highlight the alienness of Shakespearean language, as well?). Overall, a great collection of plays, and they are all testaments to Stoppard's place as my favorite playwright.

  • Brett
    2019-05-07 09:08

    Tom Stoppard is extraordinarily erudite, and often very funny. I love his best known play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and was also a big fan of his one and only novel. This collection didn't hit me the same way, though.The first play, the Real Inspector Hound, was my favorite. As others have said, it is both a send-up of the mystery genre and a commentary on criticism, while also managing to be funny to boot.Unfortunately, I thought there was diminishing returns on the rest of the plays, though it has crossed my mind that they may play better on stage where it would be easier to understand some of the action and blocking. While these plays can sometimes be clever, there really isn't much emotional pitch involved.

  • Julie
    2019-05-15 08:55

    See my comment on author David Ives' All In the Timing: Fourteen Plays:This book came up in conversation, totally independently from my reading ofWord Freak, from a discussion on ambiguity in language (and there from a discussion of the illustrated Strunk & White) which let to "Hamlet... in love... with the old man's daughter... the old man... thinks" in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead", which led to David Ives' "The Universal Language" and to the language in "Dogg's Hamlet" (in this collection).So I feel that I have to at least read "Dogg's Hamlet" from this book, if not the whole book.

  • Peter Orvetti
    2019-05-02 02:45

    I enjoy the work of Stoppard, but found this collection confusing. I had never read nor seen "The Real Inspector Hound," and I'm at a loss for why it is considered one of his stronger works. I enjoyed the conceit and the blurred lines between actor and spectator, but it seemed unfinished and the conclusion was unsatisfying."Dogg's Hamlet" and "Cahoot's Macbeth" are, like all plays, written to be seen, not read, so perhaps it's unfair to be too critical. But on the page, they make no sense at all -- which is rather the point, but it does not make for a satisfying reading experience.

  • Nancy
    2019-04-30 08:42

    These are (I'm pretty sure) by no means Tom Stoppard's most brilliant plays, but, you know, it's Tom Stoppard. And he is one very, very clever dude. His theatrical devices - like having the critic characters of "Inspector Hound" first sit in the audience being critical, and then enter into the play - well, that was quite delicious. And plus, he used the phrase "ubiquitous obliquity," which, if I can twist my tongue around it, may be my new favorite thing to say.

  • Moira Burke
    2019-05-18 01:58

    "Well, this one's not actually on my bookshelf, but the UO library has tons of the Stoppard oeuvre, and I devour as much of it as possible. Nice short plays are great for someone like me who only reads in bed at night and in the occasional coffehouse trolling for guys. Just about anything by Stoppard rocks my dog."

  • Eyehavenofilter
    2019-05-12 03:42

    Having seen this performed and read it before and after.. Is just so much is brilliant, irreverent, impossible, and reminds me now if the new BBC series "Sherlock". I could see it, watch it, and read it again and again and howl with laughter.... Just thinking of crossing the moors in those,contraptions ....! I can't give it away... You must read it to find out for yourself.

  • Ben
    2019-05-19 02:58

    It's funny how being forced to read a book in school can destroy your will to read. Despite this, I have fond memories of the Real Inspector Hound, proof that Stoppard's skill as a playwright conquerer even the tedium of afternoon English classes. The play features some clever things and I wouldn't mind seeing it performed one day.

  • S.K. Levy
    2019-04-24 06:02

    Post modernism encapsulated! Not my favourite genre at all, but these plays were so strange and off-beat that they intrigued me enough to continue reading them all. Tom Stoppard comes across as very intelligent in his way of creating scenes, the plays are clever and funny and leave you asking a lot of questions at the end...

  • Kyle
    2019-05-18 04:03

    The early plays that prove more was going on beneath the surface than silly puns and women down to their undies. Each of the five or so plays have an urgency that wants to be understood, yet a cleverness that wags a finger in the audience's face warning them not to miss one non-sequitur (or in Dogg Cahoot's plays, an entire language).

  • Julie Anderson
    2019-05-20 00:50

    Stoppard will forever be a favorite playwright of mine, so I write this acknowledging my bias. Still, this is a fantastic collection of plays (many of them older works) full of Stoppard's characteristic plot twists and quirkiness. Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth were particularly enjoyable, especially with how they linked together. But The Real Inspector Hound definitely took the cake for me.

  • Thom Dunn
    2019-05-13 05:53

    Simply the funniest play I ever read. It would, however, be a bitch for a community theater company to stage with its period set including a wheel chair coming downstairs, a body periodically hidden by a couch and its bleachers for the watchers Moon and Birdboot for the play-wrapped-around-a-play. But it reads well and my copy is not the one listed here but one I have in a textbook.

  • Aude
    2019-05-10 03:49

    Tom Stoppard is an excellent playwright. While he has written a variety of styles, this book holds some of his earlier plays written in the absurdist style. Very good for people who like abstract, out of the box writing.

  • Nick Thomas
    2019-04-24 03:45

    Stoppard's early short plays yoke the mad concision of farce to interesting big ideas. They don't feel the obligation longer plays do to establish characters sympathetic enough to carry our involvement. They're diamonds of the playwright's art!

  • Amira
    2019-05-21 05:05

    I really enjoyed reading this play, the writer is superb on many levels, how he has portrayed the classic and pretentious upper class characters and I especially liked the parody of murder mysteries!

  • Robin
    2019-05-02 01:55

    This was a Book Club read. We didn't read it ahead of time like most books we read it and discussed the night we met. It was fun and not a bad play but other then what I've already mentioned I don't recall any particular points.

  • Albie
    2019-05-15 07:46

    The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays by Tom Stoppard (1998)

  • Al West
    2019-05-10 05:07

    LOve Dirty Linen