Review: The Third Policeman
Get the scoop on Miracle Theatre’s brilliantly bonkers,touring summer show
Philosophy, time warps and bicycles – was the Miracle Theatre’s production of The Third Policeman deeply profound or just completely nuts ? That’s what Sophie from Muddy Cornwall wondered after seeing the show, which is touring the South West, stopping off at Frome’s Merlin Theatre and the Wellow Recreation Ground near Bath…
It’s probably a bit of both and at times I thought crib notes might be useful but this surreal play is hilarious, transporting and perfect for the outdoor stage. Adapted by director Bill Scott, the play is based on the cult novel of the same name, by twentieth century Irish satirist Flann O’Brien.
Based in rural Ireland, the plot follows an amateur scholar of the (questionable) scientist and philosopher De Selby, played brilliantly by Miracle Theatre mainstay Hannah Stephens.
We’re not sure if this unnamed character is a man or woman, referred to as ‘fellow’ and ‘she’ at different points in the play, but it begins with the narrator returning to the family pub after years of study, where caretaker Divney has been in charge.
Short on funds to get a critical work on De Selby out to the world, the narrator is persuaded by Divney to rob and kill a man named Mathers for his cash box. Divney then hides it, refusing for three years to tell the narrator where. When Divney finally reveals its location, under Mathers’ floorboards, they go to find it but it has disappeared.
The narrator decides to go and ask about the missing cash box at the police station of all places, which is run by two officers, who are obsessed with bicycle theft – actually bicycles in general. “Why would anyone steal a watch when they can steal a bicycle?” Sergeant Pluck asks.
The play has just four performers but the vivid and colourful characters are so well portrayed, they really stay with you, just like the script, which is packed with wit, wordplay and winning one-liners.
Then quite aptly it all ends with a head-spinning twist that makes you wonder if you understood anything of the play at all.
An Irish Alice in Wonderland? A trippy Father Ted? This bonkers comic adventure is not to be missed!
I saw The Third Policeman at the beautiful Mount Pleasant Eco Park (the sounds of the bleating lambs really added something) but Miracle is touring Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire through the summer, so there’s plenty of chances to see it.
Depending on the venue, you may need to bring something to sit on, drinks or a picnic, while some venues have bars and offer food.