Audiences can expect to have more questions than answers when they leave Basement Arts’s latest production, “The Real Inspector Hound.” According to director Scott Kloosterman, a sophomore in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, that’s the way it should be.

The Real Inspector Hound

Thursday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Friday at 7 and 11 p.m.
Walgreen Drama Center

“It leaves a lot of questions in the audience’s mind that I think will be fun to discuss later,” Kloosterman said. “But it doesn’t really answer everything.”

The play by Tom Stoppard — who wrote “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” — tells the story of two theater critics who wind up becoming a part of the whodunit play they are reviewing, making it a play within a play.

“Through the events that occur, the two critics become involved with the events onstage in a surprising way,” Kloosterman explained.

The confusing plot even tripped up the cast when they first read through the script. Without going through the entire show, it’s easy to get lost in all the action.

“It’s one of those plays where you have to either read it or perform it as a whole,” said MT&D sophomore Austin Andres, who plays theater critic Moon. “It becomes more confusing when you try to chop it up into pieces, but if you perform it from start to finish, you have a better understanding.”

Andres has a slightly different transition from his previous role to this one compared to some of his fellow cast members. In his last Basement Arts show, “From Such Great Heights,” he played God in human form. While going from God to mere mortal might faze other actors, Andres found the shift simple.

“The way I approached God was as a normal human being, because that play really showed God in a human sense,” Andres said. “But I think that each character I play is unique in its own sense and equally as big and as important to me because they each exist on their own.”

While the show is a British farce, the actors don’t just have to worry about being funny. They also have the tricky job of portraying the character in the play within the play, as well as the unnamed and unmentioned person below that character. Pulling off such a task requires a deep understanding of the relationships between characters.

“It’s a different way of thinking because usually when you perform a play you want to just completely let go of yourself and dive into whatever character you’re doing,” said MT&D sophomore Teagan Rose, who plays Cynthia. “But in this case, there is a sense of you want to be present in who the actress is under the Cynthia character.”

For those who like to find the hidden meaning in a play, the roles people play and the roles they take on in daily life are key themes woven throughout. Andres used these deeper meanings to approach his character.

“It’s a unique opportunity to explore who we hide in ourselves and what type of mask we put on on the outside,” Andres said. “These characters hide a lot of who they are, and they don’t express themselves fully until they step on the stage.”

For Kloosterman, these themes and the way they affect the relationships between the characters intrigued him.

“The person we show to others is not always who we really are,” Kloosterman said. “We put up a façade for the people that we’re interacting with, and how that breaks apart is really interesting to me.”

While the cast hopes some of the audience leaves discussing what masks they might wear in daily life, they mostly hope everyone leaves having had a good laugh.

“I think the show is really entertaining and really funny, and the actors are bringing so much to the table,” Kloosterman said. “And I hope that the audience is entertained.”

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