Agatha Christie at her very best in this new adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff
The murder mystery whodunnit has drawn audiences for decades, some come to try and guess the outcome first, others to just enjoy the story telling, but everyone will agree that Agatha Christie is the undoubted queen of the genre. Her works have been performed and adapted so many times that you wonder jut how they continue to bring in the audiences - surely once you have seen one version you know whodidit and thus the reason to see it again has gone.
Not so, for with every adaptation, every new cast and every different director comes a new slant on the story, a new focus on the plot and a new sense of intrigue around the ultimate twist.
This production of The Mirror Crack'd, brought to life by the Original Theatre Company and brilliantly directed by Philip Meeks (he of Film, TV and fishnets) carries an impressive cast, imaginative set and perfect pacing. From the very 1st scene we are introduced to the concept of scene within the scene playbacks, allowing for the story to unfold both in real time and in retrospect and giving a more televisual feel to the retelling.
Taking the lead of Jane Marple is the wonderful Susie Blake (most recently seen here in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em). Susie's spinster sleuth is a brilliant mix of 'on the fringes' observer and wily "I know what you did" detective. Her relationship with long time family friend Chief Inspector Craddock (Oliver Boot - Holby City, Endeavour and a royal performance of Henry V) is both maternal and older sibling; indeed the ribbing, cajoling and at times almost dismissive way she treats him brings a wonderful touch of humour to proceedings.
The story centres around the supposed accidental poisoning of harmless village busybody Mrs Lee (Jules Melvin) while attending American Actress Marina Gregg (Sophie Ward - Agatha Raisin, Doctors, Land Girls) party. Here to film a new movie, Gregg and her Director husband Jason Rudd (Joe McFadden - Holby City, Heartbeat, Cranford), are understandably shaken by this but as the story develop swe find that none of the guests were there by chance.
Mara Allen (The Night Watch for Original Theatre) as Cherry Baker is simply brilliant, allowed to relax in the role of a Croydon born teenager who looks and sounds very out of place in middle class Middle England. Her energy and intensity jars with the usual sedate nature of a Miss Marple quest and brings welcome injections of humour.
Providing both a metaphorical and literal shoulder to lean on for Miss Marple is former owner of the Gregg's new home, Dolly Bantry (Veronica Roberts - Scarborough, Doctors). Dolly is the counterpoint to Miss Marple and having Ms Roberts alongside Ms Blake gives a real sense of two long time friends still sharing the path through life.
This was the 2nd night of the run and the theatre was very healthily full; testament both to the draw of a Christie mystery but also in no small part to the pedigree of the Original Theatre Company.