We all love a good whodunnit, and unsurprisingly tickets sold rapidly for Rachel Wagstaff‘s adaption of the classic Agatha Christie, The Mirror Crack’d, currently at Oxford Playhouse.
But in a twist worthy of the great crime writer herself, there was a power cut on Monday, plunging the entire theatre into darkness and therefore rendering it impossible for Miss Marple and her brigade of starlets, ruffians and suspects to solve any mysteries at all.
WITH A CRACKING PLOT AND A HEFTY PACE, WE WERE SOON FULLY IMMERSED IN MISs MARPLE’S LATEST SLEUTHING ENDEAVOURS
Which is how I came to find myself enjoying the hastily arranged Wednesday matinee instead, marvelling not only at the drama playing out before me, but at the versatility of this brilliant cast, whom in a few hours time would be back on stage performing all over again.
But such is the life of an actor, and with a cracking plot and a hefty pace, we were soon fully immersed in Miss Marple’s latest sleuthing endeavours.
Casting Susie Blake as Miss Marple was genius. Best known for playing the Continuity Announcer in Victoria Wood, Bev Unwin in Coronation Street and Hillary Nicholson in Mrs Brown’s Boys, with a CV as long as her arm, she gives a pertinence and vivacity to the role.
Neither belligerent nor aged, her sprained ankle does little to deter her quest for the truth as she investigates a murder in nearby Gossington Hall recently bought by Hollywood film star Marina Gregg, played so dramatically by the wonderful Sophie Ward.
Chief Inspector Craddock (Oliver Boot) is another endearing character, who’d been looked after by Miss Marple as a boy when his mother died, and still suffers from the same temper tantrums it would seem.
Naively he takes no heed of Miss Marple’s observations, questions and interference, to his own detriment, but as the body count multiplies and the murderer’s brazenness intensifies, the pressure is on to hunt down the killer.
A WONDERFUL WAY TO SPEND AN EVENING, OR INDEED AN AFTERNOON. WELCOME BACK AGATHA, WE’VE MISSED YOU
Aided ably by Marina’s husband Jason Rudd played by a charismatic and booze-soaked Joe McFadden of Strictly fame, another favourite character was Dolly (Veronica Roberts), former resident of Gossington Hall.
Representing middle England with a capital M, aghast at the advancement of technology, plumbing and even shops, she rails against the new ‘super market’ where apparently you ‘help yourself’, showers and the housing development with its wire fences and children playing in the street.
But despite her bigotry, her friendship and reflections with Miss Marple bring out a personal side to the domestic detective, making St Mary Mead’s most famous resident altogether more human and complex.
The Mirror Crack’d at Oxford Playhouse is a wonderful way to spend an evening, or indeed an afternoon. Welcome back Agatha, we’ve missed you.
There are limited tickets left for The Mirror Crack’d at Oxford Playhouse which runs until Saturday October 15, with matinees today (Thursday 13) and Saturday. Book at https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/the-mirror-crackd#dates-and-times