The legend of graphic novel writing that is Alan Moore even makes a rare on-screen appearance in this Mitch Jenkins-directed film of Moore’s whimsical noir mystery The Show.
The drone circles over the urban landscape, setting the scene for the story which is about to unfold. But instead of the skyscrapers, we may be accustomed to in such film openings, we see a series of flat-roofed warehouses and distribution centres amid what could only be described as a very drab townscape. Our story is not going to be in some sparkling city such as New York or Paris but in the ordinary county town of Northampton, 60 miles north of London.
The content of the tale is, however, far from drab. Once the surface of ordinariness has been scratched, we’re going to meet with magic, eccentric characters, strange humor, kids as Private Investigators, and a lot of bizarre dreams.
Tom Burke is Fletcher Dennis, a self-styled ‘performance artist’ who arrives in the town searching for a man and an artefact that he allegedly had with him when he disappeared. Burke’s Fletcher Dennis is an uncanny adult embodiment of Dennis the Menace, complete with a shock of dark hair, red and black striped t-shirts, and even the trademark catapult.
Assisted by an array of bizarre characters, Dennis’ investigations seem to take place in a weird dream world or parallel reality and he stumbles around until even he is not sure where dreams end and reality begins.
In truth, there’s little point in trying to say much more. For one, it’s almost impossible to describe the absurd, surreal goings-on which link to form the plot. And for two, isn’t that exactly what you would expect from something with which Alan Moore is so heavily involved?
A word of praise for the production design, who have really gone to town on the details – the posters, shop signs and flyers all quirkily hint at what may be happening, even though some of them may be on-screen so quickly it’s difficult to keep up.
Tom Burke is always worth watching, and fans of Alan Moore will probably enjoy The Show significantly more than those who are not overly familiar with his work and style.