A second-string theater critic, called to review the play in the absence of Higgs, the first-string critic. Moon feels diminished by his role as "understudy". His existence — not just in the theater world, but in the world more generally — hinges on the absence of Higgs. Seated next to his colleague Birdboot, Moon soliloquizes about the meaning of his life and occasionally uses his ‘public voice’ to offer bombastic analyses of the parlor mystery. Mostly, he fantasizes about the death of Higgs, and eventually he realizes that the third-string critic Puckeridge probably wishes the same fate on him. By the end of the play, he is literally caught up in the murder mystery production that he is supposed to be reviewing, assuming the role of Inspector Hound.
A renowned theater critic and rumored womanizer, Birdboot catapults young actresses to stardom by delivering dazzling reviews in return, we assume, for sexual favors. He is married to Myrtle but is having an affair with the actress who plays Felicity in the play-within-a-play. Moon's protested accusations of philandering are confirmed when — while watching the play — Birdboot falls for the actress that plays Cynthia, turning his attention away from Felicity. Like Moon, Birdboot becomes literally caught up in the play that he is supposed to be reviewing, assuming the role of Simon Gascoyne.
The senior critic that Moon stands in for. Higgs turns out to be the dead man on the floor of Muldoon Manor.
The third-string theater critic and Moon’s stand-in. In early versions of the play, this character was called “McCafferty.” Puckeridge is first mentioned when Moon realizes that if he wishes Higgs were dead, then surely Puckeridge wishes the same for him. Puckeridge turns out to have orchestrated the string of murders in the play so that he could rise to first-string critic. He disguises himself as Major Magnus Muldoon in the play-within-a-play.
Birdboot’s wife, who rightly suspects that Birdboot is having affairs with other women. Birdboot describes her as “homely but good-natured.”
The maid of Muldoon Manor. Her cockney accents adds humor, and she is one of the primary vehicles for emphasizing the satirical nature of the play. She is the only character who does not make a death threat at Muldoon Manor. Her name is appropriate, as “drudge” means a person made to do hard, menial, or dull work.
New to the neighborhood, Simon has had affairs with both Felicity and Cynthia. He takes an instant dislike to Magnus, as they are both in love with Cynthia. His physical features match those of the madman on the loose, and at times he is the primary suspect of the investigation in the play-within-a-play. His life parallels Birdboot’s in romantic entanglements. Later in the play, Birdboot assumes the role of Simon Gascoyne, and vice versa.
A beautiful, innocent, young friend of Cynthia’s who has had an affair with Simon. The actress that plays Felicity has had an affair with Birdboot. She is seemingly sweet and charming, but when Simon flirts with Cynthia, she lobs death threats at him. Moon/Inspector Hound accuses Felicity of murdering Simon Gascoyne, but she is quickly absolved of the accusation. The name Felicity — meaning intense happiness — is ironic since she spends most of the play either sad or fearful.
Cynthia is the widow of Lord Albert Muldoon who disappeared ten years ago. She claims to be very upset about her husband’s disappearance but also flirts with the men at Muldoon Manor and has become involved in a budding affair with Simon Gascoyne. A sophisticated and beautiful woman in her thirties, men find her irresistible. Although she directs death threats at Simon Gascoyne, she is never considered a primary suspect in the murder case. Birdboot falls in love with the actress playing Cynthia.
Major Magnus Muldoon
Lord Albert Muldoon’s crippled half-brother who has just arrived from Canada. He vocalizes his desire for his late half-brother’s widow, Cynthia, and takes an instant dislike to Simon, who is also in love with Cynthia. He is grouchy and thick-skinned. From the critics’ seats, Birdboot and Moon pronounce early on in the play that he ought to be watched carefully. By the end, as Moon and Birdboot have become enmeshed in the play-within-a-play, it is revealed he is Albert, masquerading as both Magnus and Inspector Hound.
Hound appears in the middle of the play to investigate an alleged phone call. His character takes its inspiration from Hound of the Baskervilles, the third of four crime novels featuring Sherlock Holmes and published in 1902. In that novel, the legend of a “fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin” inspires a murder. The title of the play leads us to believe that Inspector Hound is not who he says he is. Moon assumes the role of Inspector Hound near the end of the play, and vice versa.
The Real Inspector Hound Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Real Inspector Hound is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Hound appears in the middle of the play to investigate an alleged phone call. His character takes its inspiration from Hound of the Baskervilles, the third of four crime novels featuring Sherlock Holmes and published in 1902. In that novel, the...