cracked trio

Joe McFadden as Jason  Rudd, Susie Blake as Miss Marple and Sophie Ward as Marina Gregg

The Mirror Crack’d

Malvern Theatres


This stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side is an excellent interpretation of Christie’s original novel. The audience is in rapt attention throughout the evening.

Set in the village of St. Mary Mead, where Christie had set earlier novels, Gossington Hall has recently been purchased by a famous film actress called Marina Gregg, whose husband, Jason Rudd, is directing her in her latest film.

As they are hosting an event in aid of St John’s Ambulance, one of the volunteers, Heather, a devoted admirer of Marina, dies suddenly from a poisoned drink.

The murder evokes little care or compassion from us as spectators of the action; as always with a Christie novel, the murder is just a device to present us with the challenge of identifying the murderer. Chief Inspector Craddock is the official responsible for solving the puzzle, but it is once again his aunt, Miss Jane Marple, who is key to unravelling the mystery.

This clever and modern Original Theatre adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff presents us with a colourful and diverse range of characters and suspects, in an entangled set of relationships surrounding Marina, all with different possible motivations for carrying out the murder. Was the intended victim Heather or indeed Marina herself? Is someone covering up for and protecting another?

An aspect of the play that enriches the entertainment value is the humour and comedy. The perceptive Jane Marple shows up her bumbling nephew, whose elevation to Chief Inspector is very ironic. Rachel Wagstaff’s script, complemented by excellent comic timing on the part of the cast, bring out the comedy subtly and brilliantly.

From the moment the curtain rises, the clever use of an impressionistic set design, the movement of the cast around the set and the subtle use of lighting establish a dramatic atmosphere and pose questions to the audience. There are neat time shifts in the action, pointed by the use of lighting, that keep the audience piecing together the story and trying to understand the motivations.

Susie Blake is an excellent Marple. Her warmth and empathy, her humour and her incisive questioning as increasingly she takes over and dominates the investigation, are brilliant. Oliver Boot, Chief Inspector and her nephew, is outstanding in his timing and portrayal of officialdom and incompetence. He is good a making the tea and answering the door.

Sophie Ward plays with screen star Marina with great presence and control; there is complexity and variety in her characterisation. Her pesty husband played by Joe McFadden flits around her and tries to manage and direct her sufficiently to arouse suspicion. Veronica Roberts is excellent as Dolly Bantry, former owner of Gossington Hall; the other cast members bring great colour, humour and variety to the performance. The pacing of the production is perfect.

This is a quality performance and adaptation of the Christie novel. It provides a delightful evening’s entertainment; it runs at the Festival Theatre to 19.11.22.

Tim Crow


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