Rachel Wagstaff’s adaptation of Dame Agatha Christie’s 1962 whodunit, The Mirror Crack’d is clever. Few in the audience would have guessed who the killer was. The denouement is a surprise.
There are some great lines in this play: “You’d have had my husband strung up just because a body was found in my library.” And: “Did she have any enemies, perhaps a bad ending to one of her five other marriages?”
Rachel Wagstaff’s adaptation of Dame Agatha Christie’s 1962 whodunit, The Mirror Crack’d is clever and though there are clues throughout the drama, few in the audience would have guessed who the killer was.
With a plot set in the early 1960s and some splendid costumes to match, film star, Marina Gregg has bought a country house owned by a friend of Jane Marple, Christie’s amateur sleuth.
The actress holds a cocktail party at her new home and horrors! one of her guests drinks a poisoned strawberry dakari.
We are told the drink was meant for the hostess and the glasses were swapped. As the story unfolds, we find that almost everyone there had a motive.
In a beautifully understated performance, Susie Blake plays Miss Marple, confined by a sprained ankle to a wheelchair but wheeled to the scene of the crime by Chief Inspector Dermot Craddock, played in great period style by Simon Shepherd.
The play is set when “pop music” was a new phenonmenon. The opening music is by Helen Shapiro and Julia Hills as Marple’s close friend Dolly Bantry precisely captures the mood of the era, scoffing at the new housing development where there are mothers “pushing prams with not a wedding ring in sight.”
Film star Marina, played adroitly by Suzanna Hamilton, is in the village filming a movie about Catherine of Aragon. The play within a play scene with Hamilton as Catherine and Gillian Saker as the younger actress Lola Brewster playing Anne Boleyn, is a gem.
In an ensemble production with consistently good performances, other stand out ones are from Katherine Manners as the murder victim, Heather Leigh, Katie Matsell as the cleaner Cherry Baker and Davina Moon as the film star’s secretary, Ella Zelinsky.
Directed by Melly Still, the the run up to the murder is shown with multiple flashbacks like a video tape rewound, A charming vignette of a story from 50 years ago, retold to engage us today.
The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 23.