Reviewing theatrical productions for a local newspaper is fraught with difficulty, especially when the days of the Chester Chronicle arts critic are long gone.
Nowadays, when we get an invitation to review, any reporter with a penchant for theatre, dance, musicals, orchestra concerts and the like, can choose to accept if the production takes their fancy.
Dilemmas ensue - we have a small staff and cannot possibly attend every school or amateur theatrical company's offering, do we rate amateur productions in the same way as professional and how do you reply to the email from an actor who was not happy with what has been written?
So, imagine the stress of reviewing a play about reviewers who get so involved with the production that one is shot and killed, presented by a bunch of school kids and directed by a 16-year-old.
The one-act play within a play draws on Stoppard's experiences as a theatre critic in Bristol during the 1960s. It is a parody of the parlour game and the pompous critics watching the tale unfold are so affected by what is happening on stage that they join the action, with dire consequences.
And Edward's directorial debut was a fine one. The over-acting was superb and the pace was quick. Every actor's move was thought through and there was no slacking. Eleri Reece-Jones' Mrs Drudge was a delight and her feather duster kept her busy throughout the piece, probing every nook and cranny in more ways than one.
Finlay Paterson and Tom Cuffin-Munday as Moon and Birdboot were as cynical and bombastic as any critics worth their salt and the added design touch of a box of Black Magic took me right back to my youth.
Rebecca Hatton never once lost control of her upper class lisp as Lady Cynthia Muldoon and the director himself, in Hollywood style, even found a part for himself - as Inspector Hound. But was he the real one?
The Real Inspector Hound only lasted one hour and was only at the Vanburgh Theatre for a short run of two nights. Be careful not to miss little gems like this.