Coup de Grace


REVIEW OF ‘COUP DE GRACE’ – General Anzeiger Bonn

(translated from the German)

Robin Hawdon’s comedy “Glamour, Gauner und Juwelen” elates the audience with an extraordinarily enthusiastic cast of six actors who make the evening a revel of intricate logical calculation.  Ever since Alfred Hitchcock had beautiful Grace Kelly and suave Cary Grant ‘Catch A Thief’ in Nice, we have known that the French Riviera is an excellent place for a jewel robbery. Its wicked reputation was renewed only a few years ago when very posh rocks worth more than 100 million Euro changed hands unlawfully at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes. Robin Hawdon’s comedy doesn’t deal with such record sums, but there is a sizeable diamond necklace which belongs to film actress Grace Gervaise – and the author knows how to establish meaningful references. This priceless piece, however, has vanished, and Grace is discovered lying on a sofa, beautiful but lifeless.  This story about glamour and dirty deeds during the Cannes Film Festival is a world premiere, and was enthusiastically applauded by the audience. The superficial tale of a complex criminal case involving missing diamonds and apparent attempted murder, which Hawdon weaves into his delightfully old-fashioned ‘murderous comedy’, is actually only a marginally important aspect. The author is more concerned with something more important: the enigma of reality versus outward appearance, of truth versus fiction.  With Hawdon, doubt is everywhere. Everyone suspects everyone else, no-one is quite who they seem to be, even the much in evidence sexuality is often a subterfuge, and the apparent dead bodies, which turn up in considerable numbers, resemble Lazarus in that they tend to join quite soon again with all the others on stage. Hawdon fools the audience with a litany of assumptions, and his permutation games reach dazzlingly absurd heights. During the course of the play we learn that film actress Grace owes her popularity mostly to second rate B-movies.  Hawdon’s play, however, can be classified as a genuine A.