Murder, magic and mayhem

Tommy and Tuppence

Tea for two: Emerald O'Hanrahan and Garmon Rhys as Miss Prudence Cowley and Mr Thomas Beresford - Tommy and Tuppence.

The Secret Adversary

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


A COMPANY of seven actor/musicians tackles 22 roles in this new adaption of Agatha Christie’s first full-length novel from 1920.

It stars the sleuthing talents of the ‘Young Adventurers’ Tommy and Tuppence – aka Mr Thomas Beresford (Garmon Rhys) and Miss Prudence Cowley (Emerald O’Hanrahan).

The story so far involves a lost treaty, many red herrings, a lady called Jane Fish, the sinking of the Lusitania (performed with shadows on a vintage overhead projector), the Red Terror and also murder, music, magic and mayhem.

In 2015 terms, a quick look back at the post- WW1 world of the Ritz, the Candlelight Club and the closest the world has ever been to global revolution in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution, Ireland in uproar, 2 million souls hungry and out of work, promised ‘a land fit for heroes’ the parallels make for uneasy viewing.

Seven actor/musicans seemingly could do everything, Sophie Scott plays Jane Fish, a French maid called Annette plus sax and piano, Kieran Buckeridge plays piano and Julius, American millionaire on the hunt for his cousin kidnapped in Britain, Nigel Lister plays Sir James, well-heeled diplomat and all-round ‘good egg’, Morgan Philpott does the magic tricks, and plays Whittington, assumed to be the ‘baddie’, and Major Domo at the Ritz (wonderfully), Elizabeth Marsh sings, plays piano, flute, sax and also Marguerite (Rita) van de Meyer cabaret star at London’s Candlelight Club.

They worked hard as did the set, wonderfully inventive moments include a truly amazingly timed chase scene through over and under the set with false directions handled incredibly well in a small space, a ‘moving’ keyhole to view the main protagonists of the British ‘Revolution’.

The treaty is the real star, it finally makes its appearance at the denouement only for the master magician to ‘disappear’ it just as fast.

Adapted and directed by Sarah Punshon and Johann Hari this The Watermill West Berkshire Playhouse Production is a fast-moving, energetic show with so much to recommend it.

It is inventive, rich and brings many elements of theatre to the fore. Basically, in taking Agatha Christie’s great story and adapting it for the stage, the results bring to life two main characters who appear again and again in Christie’s books.

Tommy and Tuppence are a charming, likeable pair and the touching moments are built beautifully as they both realise their affection and love for each other. As ever with a Christie story, it’s the human elements that make it. Lovely. To 02-04-14.

Jane Howard



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