Agatha Christie, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff
Original Theatre Company, in association with JAS Theatricals
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
October 17-22, 2022; 1 hr 45 min
What is the justification for taking the life of another? Jealousy? Rage? Bitterness? These are emotions central to this classic Agatha Christie tale, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff.
The feelings are key to solving a murder initially seen as a case of mistaken identity, and mark the start of a typically tortuous plot with the usual plateful of red herrings.
Central is Miss Marple, played in excellent fashion by Susie Blake. She fashions an amateur detective at times compassionate, a wise counsellor, and at others thoroughly understanding what is going on – much to the chagrin of her bumbling nephew, who also happens to be a police chief inspector (Oliver Boot).
Holding centre stage for much of the play, Marple's character is delicious, inherently clever and self-assured and a smart contrast to fictional detectives such as Poirot or Sherlock Holmes. Not many old ladies get such a high profile in literature.
While Marple is the dominant character, there are some good parts for others, including popular figures Joe McFadden and Sophie Ward; Chrystine Symone (Lola) and Sarah Lawrie, (who last night understudied the role of Cherry), who have great moments as we discover they are sisters. David Partridge (Cyril) plays a doting husband who knows much more than he should, but is casually ignored – a welcome running joke. This is a murder mystery, but one laced with humour with some great one-liners.
The script is highly dependent on dialogue and comes across as fairly intense, which at times needs careful attention. The staging, while using some imaginative scene changes and flashbacks, limits the scope for action. Miss Marple spends nearly all of the first act glued to her chair, and it would have been nice to see more general movement. Some of the important events are reported rather than acted, increasing the show's reliance on Marple.
But the evening warms up as the play reaches its denouement, and has a suitably unusual perpetrator who commits the crime for an atypical reason. At the curtain the audience will generally reckon to have got its money's worth, with a few things to ponder on the way home.
More info and tickets here