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Christie classic needs sharpening up

July 4, 2019

  

Spider’s Web, The Priory Theatre, Kenilworth, until July 13.

 

A bored young wife, stuck at home while her husband works in the Foreign Office, amuses herself by imagining unlikely scenarios, and what she would do in those circumstances.

 Then there really is a body in the drawing room, and Clarissa has to move fast before her husband comes home with an important politician.

 As this is an Agatha Christie play (and her second most successful after The Mousetrap), they are in an isolated country house, with several guests and more servants than you’d expect for a play written in the 1950s. 

 So the scene is set for a comedy murder mystery, with dragging around of the body, characters who fit Christie stereotypes and a droll policeman intent on solving the murder. Modern life intrudes with a plot line about drug addiction, but it still feels fun, if dated.

 Wendy Courtenay Miller as gurning gardener Miss Peake is an audience favourite, with her jolly hockey-sticks approach, and Des King as visitor Hugo Birch also plays the jolly old duffer – dragged into covering up a murder – to a tee. 

 The action takes place in a drawing room, and the set works well, but this is a challenging play.

 The character of Clarissa is an attractive one, played with humour, great facial expressions and energy by Sharon Sully. The trouble is Clarissa has lots of dialogue and is on stage most of the time, so perhaps first-night nerves meant the prompter was kept on his toes, and was thankfully up to the task. 

 She wasn’t the only one needing help, and there were other slips with people clashing in doorways, talking over each other and suggesting the next move in a card game when cards had been laid face down. Hopefully these things will all be ironed out during the run.

 

www.priorytheatre.co.uk or 0333 666 3366




 

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