Having penned screenplays for Gladiator, The Aviator and Skyfall, John Logan should know a thing or two about Hollywood power dynamics.

In Double Feature, he harks back to the 60s for a double take on the fraught actor-director relationship, raising questions about the male gaze, whether cinema is art, and the painful price an immortal performance might extract from its creators.

Two couples simultaneously occupy Anthony Ward's beamed rural cottage set. They are five years apart, yet share overlapping, reverberating dialogue.

Ham & High: Jonathan Hyde as Vincent Price in Double FeatureJonathan Hyde as Vincent Price in Double Feature (Image: Manuel Harlan)

It's after hours during the filming of Marnie, and Joanna Vanderham's weary, wary Tippi Hedren is summoned to Hitch's villa on a California studio lot  - decked out as an English country cottage - for a rehearsal and elaborate meal.

Meanwhile Jonathan Hyde's campy, sardonic Vincent Price confronts his young director Michael Reeves in a Suffolk cottage near the shoot for Witchfinder General.

This arty young hipster is trying to persuade the old ham to drop his scenery chewing ways and produce a career elevating performance. Price has long decided that movies are ephemeral rubbish, and is threatening to walk off set and kill the film.

Ham & High: Joanna Vanderham as Tippi Hedren and Ian Mcneice as Alfred HitchcockJoanna Vanderham as Tippi Hedren and Ian Mcneice as Alfred Hitchcock (Image: Manuel Harlan)

The couples share food, rehearse, swap barbs and talk of authenticity in film. At one point in Jonathan Kent's well-choreographed production, they are seated around the same table.

But Hitchcock is after something more sinister than a good performance, controlling Hedren's clothing, reminding her she was a mere model when he discovered her, and under direct contract to him. Then, like one of his camera pans, the set slides right to reveal a rumpled bed.

It's a diverting, often funny 85 minutes, yet leaves you feeling Logan could have dug deeper.

Ham & High: Rowan Polonski as Michael Reeves in Double FeatureRowan Polonski as Michael Reeves in Double Feature (Image: Manuel Harlan)

The two stories are supposed to work as parallels, but aren't equivalently abusive, and don't always enlighten each other.

Rowan Polonski's febrile, vulnerable Reeves literally strips himself bare to share his mental health issues, but Hyde's Price is more cuddly luvvie than the monsters he played on screen.

Ian Mcneice isn't reptilian or menacing enough as the propositioning Hitchcock, but Vanderham is superb at showing the effect his objectification and nastiness of performing Marnie's self-serving rape scene.

Dressed in an ice blue suit, the cool blonde carapace cracks as emotions of resignation, disgust, panic and defiance chase across her face.

Double Feature runs at Hampstead Theatre until March 10.