Rachel Wagstaff’s triumphant adaptation of classic Christie whodunit
Watch the YouTube review of The Mirror Crack’d-
The Wales Millennium Centre and Wiltshire Creative touring production of Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d, adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff, received its premiere at Salisbury Playhouse.
This could have a standard Agatha Christie whodunit but this production is far above standard. Rachel Wagstaff has provided an adaptation that is faithful to the plot and characters, necessarily simplified for a two hour stage show, but with unexpected depth added.
It’s still a story of Miss Marple investigating the death of a villager who expires after drinking a famous film star’s daiquiri.The original shows Miss Marple concerned that she’s being marginalised by her old age and the changing times (it’s set in the early Sixties). In this story, she is also temporarily disabled to add to her feeling of being ignored.
Apart from putting a contemplation of the invisibility of old age centre stage, this play concerns itself with the loneliness of older people. It also dwells on memory- both the way in which memories affect who we are but also, integral to the plot, the unreliability of memory.
We see the same scene re-enacted on numerous occasions, each time slightly different depending on who is telling the story. Melly Still‘s pared back production with a simple, appropriately dark set by Richard Kent keeps the story moving between flashbacks and changes of scene.
Rachel Wagstaff’s dialogue is also more dynamic than Agatha Christie’s and more robust, by which I mean there’s some swearing.
Susie Blake has some big acts to follow in the role of Miss Marple but she more than holds her own with a mix of quiet determination and sly humour. The rest of the cast, and there are eleven altogether, provide humour and weight. Simon Shepherd is amusing as the pompous, patronising Chief inspector Craddock. Suzanna Hamilton is the fragile film star and Julia Hills is amusing and slightly sad as Miss Marple’s snobbish but empathetic friend Dolly.
The Mirror Crack’d has an entertaining plot with some welcome depth, like biting on a soft chocolate and finding a chewy centre.
The Mirror Crack’d continues at Salisbury Playhouse until 9 March 2019 then visits The Gaiety Theatre Dublin (12-16 March), the Arts Theatre Cambridge (19-23 March) and New Theatre Cardiff (26 March-6 April).