Tag Archive: Agatha Christie

I have recently completed reading the entire Agatha Christie collection (Not in one go, I may add) and even though Miss Marple is my least favourite protagonist of The Queen of Crime, I went happily along to see The Mirror Cracked. Of course, having read the book, I already knew whodunnit, but that did not spoil things.

Miss Marple is drawn into the murder of a village local when the intended target is thought to be Hollywood actor, Marina Gregg who has recently arrived in the area. A few character changes and minor differences, but the plot largely remained the same as in the novel, one of Christie’s more acclaimed.

The Mirror Cracked — New Alexander Theatre — 17 February 2023

With a simple but effective revolving set, many scenes involved flashbacks which take place while Marple (played superbly by Susie Blake) discussed and pondered with all involved. The way these were handled allowed the plot to move seamlessly from one scene to another and worked well, never letting the production drop. Centre of many of these was Chief Inspector Craddock in whom Oliver Boot really shone, making Craddock the comic foil for most parts. And humour was present in other areas to lift and add another dimension to a script which could easily have fallen stale.

Also on top billing was Sophie Ward as movie star Marina Gregg with Joe McFadden as husband Jason and both delivered the top performances you would expect. Supporting well, though, were Mara Allen (Cherry Baker), Sarah Lawrie (Ella Zielinsky), Lorenzo Martelli (Giuseppe), Jules Melvin (Heather Leigh), David Partridge (Cyril Leigh), Veronica Roberts (Dolly Bantry) Chrystine Symone (Lola Brewster) and Holly Smith (Party Guest/Assistant Director/Policewoman). Production for The Mirror Cracked was in the hands of Tammy Rose while direction was by Phillip Franks. This adaptation was from Rachel Wagstaff with results of the highest quality.

The Mirror Cracked — New Alexander Theatre — 17 February 2023

So, even though I knew the outcome, it was still enjoyable watching events unfold. The only criticism I would have was the absence of microphones. The New Alexander Theatre is a large venue and even though I was on row F of the stalls, I struggled at times, so heaven knows how those at the back of the Rear Circle fared. I know it’s traditional, but this is 2023; the technology is there — use it.

As with all Christie stories, it is near impossible to name the murderer until the end but so well is it crafted, you realise the clues were always there. A good evening out for an enjoyable touch of murder and intrigue.

The Mirror Cracked — New Alexander Theatre — 17 February 2023


Antony N Britt

For many years I had promised myself I would see The Mousetrap, the longest running play in the West End. However, for me, the venue wasn’t the St Martin’s Theatre, London, but The New Alexandra in Birmingham with the play on tour.

Now, being a writer, I am also a prolific reader and have sampled nearly half of Agatha Christie’s catalogue to date. Therefore, I had an advantage in suspecting the murderer as soon as they made their entrance. I was proved right, as it turned out, but like a good detective, didn’t show my hand until it mattered. Assume nothing.

The plot involves a young couple, Molly and Giles Ralston, preparing for the opening of their guest house venture at Monkswell Manor. Numerous guests arrive, surrounded by the news of a murder in London. At the end of the first act, one of their number is also murdered and Sergeant Trotter, who appears before the manor is cut-off by heavy snowfall, investigates. And we get the usual Christie drama of multiple clues, false leads and sub-plots.

I am not going to reveal more as you are asked at the end, not to, and who am I to spoil the fun.

Using one set, The Mousetrap is a bit slow at the start and very little of relevance occurs until near the end of Act One, just before the murder. However, the characters and plot are set up well and you form a real attachment to the Manor’s owners and guests. What I liked was a good use of humour, essential in something as dark as a murder mystery, in my opinion, so as not to make the experience totally gloomy.

Topping the bill was a national treasure of British film and theatre in Susan Penhaligon as the ultra-critical Mrs Boyle. I have to say, it was a joy to witness someone I have watched in films and TV over the years and for me, the most memorable being in Doctor Who’s, The Time Monster, way back in 1972.

Supporting well, though, were David Alcock (Mr Paravicini), Geoff Arnold (Sgt Trotter), Nick Biadon (Giles Ralston), John Griffiths (Major Metcalf), Harriett Hare (Mollie Ralston) and Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen (Miss Casewell). Finally, we had Lewis Chandler as Christopher Wren who gave a superb performance. Wren is a flamboyant character with many opportunities to shine, but Chandler took and exceeded all of them. The production was directed by Gareth Armstrong.

Christie’s writing desk at Greenway. Who knows, perhaps The Mousetrap was written here.

All in all, a good show. Yes, I guessed whodunnit! And yes, there are plot holes, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. A lovely night out.


Antony N Britt

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