Agatha Christie,  theatre

The Mirror Crack’d – Classic Agatha Christie At The Alex

The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side is one of Agatha Christie’s most cherished novels, the story (actually based on fact) of how a chance meeting can have a devastating effect on one person’s life, and lead to serious repercussions for all those in it. It was made into a star studded movie in 1980, and is now a smash hit touring production by Original Theatre. It arrived in Birmingham this week at The Alexandra Theatre, and proved that the magic of Agatha Christie is certainly still alive and kicking in the 21st Century.

A slight injury to her ankle caused by a fall means that Miss Marple has to miss out on the arrival of Hollywood Film star Marina Gregg and her entourage at Gossington Hall in St Mary Mead, but she is soon bought up to date with all the happenings, not least the shocking death of local lady Heather Leigh, after drinking a starwberry Dacquiri cocktail meant for the star herself, but kindly offered to Heather after she spilt her own drink. That Marina was the intended victim doesn’t seem to be in doubt, but who would want to kill the beautiful star, making her comeback after 12 years off screen? Could it be her husband, the director Jason Rudd? Her co star Lorna Brewster, her secretary Ella Lielinsky or her loyal butler Giuseppe Renzo? Chief Inspector Craddock isn’t sure, and enlists the help of Miss Marple, her nurse Cherry Baker, and her lifelong friend Dolly Bantry to find out. But as the evidence starts to appear, could it be that Marina wasn’t the intended victim at all, and does the truth lie in a terrible tragedy from the past?

Television veteran Susie Blake is a great Miss Marple, resting her foot in a chair whilst the story unfolds around her. She has all the great traits of the best Marple’s – both sensible and reserved, but not missing any of the key, but some might say seemingly inconsequential details, that will solve the case. She is ably matched by Oliver Boot as Craddock, bringing a comic edge to the role, and Veronica Roberts as Dolly Bantry, her friend who is stoically trying to hold up to the loss of both her husband and her family home. Sophie Ward is a glamorous presence as Marina, tall and elegant, she is every inch a film star, and has a real stage presence, whilst Joe McFadden is suitably energetic as her devoted husband Jason.

In fairness, this is an ensemble cast, and each performance is pitched perfectly. Chrystine Symone brings a real pathos to her role as Lorna Brewster, whilst Mara Allen alternates wonderfully between fright and fight as Cherry (Croyden is a killer answer on at least one occasion). Sarah Lawrie and Lorenzo Martelli also have eye catching cameos as staff Zielinsky and Martelli, both crucial to the plot as it is revealed, whilst Jules Melvin and David Partridge nicely round out the cast as the victim Heather and her lost suffering husband Cyril.

The play is wonderfully staged, as the story is revealed to both Miss Marple and the audience at the same time, through remembered conversations and flashback scenes. There are moments of real drama, such as the possible second attempt on Marina’s life – fairly shocking if you are not familiar with the story, whilst there are neat statements made about how we think about and treat women who are getting older, who are unmarried, and who are childless.

The Mirror Crack’d is a satisfying murder mystery with a real sting in its tale.

The Alexandra, Birmingham

Thurs 16 Feb – Sat 18 Feb 2023
Click here for ticket information


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