Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: A Fun Romp Through Time and Space

If you know me, you know how much I adore theatre; nothing excites me more than going to see a play or musical, so I was more than excited to see the Drama and Musical Theatre Society’s production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency which was directed by Sammy Glyn and Jamie Nicholls, and ran from the 11th-14th November in the drama studio here at UEA. I particularly like student productions because it includes people that you might know from university, so much so that I actually saw it twice.

The stage was set minimally with three large raised podiums where actors could move between and props could be placed, and multiple tall, white boards behind, creating impromptu ‘wings’ where props and actors could be behind and come out when needed.

The plot was highly complex, and if I’m honest I’m unsure whether I understood every aspect of it, but that, I suppose, is the nature of a Douglas Adams’ story! It centred on Robin McDuff, a Cambridge graduate, who connects to old friend Dirk Gently who is now running a holistic detective agency concerned with the ‘interconnectedness of all things’. The play is set over the course of two days, and these two are trying to uncover who killed businessman Gordon Way – a the brother of Robin’s girlfriend, Susan – who is now trapped as a ghost and can do nothing but watch his sister who mourns for him. Meanwhile people are beginning to act strangely, perhaps as though they are being possessed by some ghost or spirit, and what does all of this have to do with an abacus?

The cast was all superb and diverse, gender-bending some roles. This was most notable in the character of Robin who was written originally as Richard; however this change only added diversity to the relationship at the core of the story between Robin and Susan which I thoroughly enjoyed. Whether big or small roles, it was evident how much every cast member enjoyed performing.

It was also a very comical play, with laughs a minute by this excellent cast. Notable comic standouts have to be Sam Gordon Webb who played Gordon Way with such a dry wit it had the audience in stitches every time he was on stage; Lillian Carver who played the minor role of Janice, Dirk’s receptionist, but stole every scene with her sarcasm and contempt to her employer; and a well done has to be said to Dominique Marshall who steered the motley crew and held the audience in the palm of her hand as Dirk Gently with her enigmatic charm.

Congratulations must be awarded also to the production team for putting on such an ambitious play in only four weeks, a feat that paid off immensely. Every scene ran like clockwork and I enjoyed every moment. The tech and lighting team, headed by Tori Simpson and Tasha Hilton respectively, did a superb job of submerging the audience in a world of eccentricity, particularly the time travel scene which was done well. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through space and time, and can’t wait to see what this talented society will put on next!

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Hamilton Brown

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January 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

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