Tag Archives: Agatha Christie

The Mirror Crack'd

The Mirror Crack’d


Royal and Derngate Theatre

THE MIRROR CRACK’D at the Royal and Derngate Theatre



The Mirror Crack'd

“Special mention goes for Ward’s restrained performance as the softly spoken starlet”


Original Theatre has assembled a first-rate cast for this new adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff of Agatha Christie’s classic novel.
The action is set somewhere in the 1950s, a time when supermarkets and showers are new commodities, and the death penalty is still a deterrent. It’s not too much of a spoiler to report that a murder is committed for which there are a number of prime suspects. From out of town, and whose arrival is causing so much excitement in the sleepy village, are Hollywood legend Marina Gregg (Sophie Ward) with protective husband and film director Jason Rudd (Joe McFadden), co-star Lola Brewster (Chrystine Symone) and amongst their faithful entourage are waiter Guiseppe (Lorenzo Martelli) and secretary Elia (Sarah Lawrie). From within the village are the wealthy Dolly Bantry (Veronica Roberts), the down-to-earth Leighs (Jules Melvin & David Partridge) and Miss Marple’s home-help Cherry Baker (Mara Allen). A variety of personages with colourful accents – some of them over-played – verges close to pantomime on occasion. But as crucial scenes are re-enacted with different interpretations – bravo Jules Melvin – generally the performances are honest and rise above the caricature.

Special mention goes for Ward’s restrained performance as the softly spoken starlet, and Roberts’ bustling Dolly who appears to be the real village gossip.

Director Philip Franks moves this large cast of twelve naturally around the stage. Often in frieze positions whilst action is highlighted elsewhere, occasionally unwelcome shadows are cast from the otherwise effective side lighting (Emma Chapman). Frank’s insightful direction provides a line-up of suspects for us to learn who is who which aids the interval fun of making a guess as to whodunnit.

A central revolving structure (Designer Adrian Linford) provides the imposing backing for both Miss Marple’s living room and the film studio with large French windows and sliding glass doors showing a mirror reflection of the action. An almost constant background of effective incidental music going on behind much of the dialogue (Max Pappenheim) enhances the suspense but also evokes the comfortable feeling of watching something familiar on Sunday evening TV.

For much of the first act, Miss Marple (Susie Blake) sits on a central winged armchair, her bandaged sprained ankle raised, whilst snatches of action take place in front of her. The humorous repartee between her and Chief Inspector Craddock (Oliver Boot), as Miss Marple subtly takes over the questioning of suspects, is well done. Boot, despite a stereotypical moustache and much pacing, holds his own amid the laughter.

As Miss Marple takes to her feet with the aid of crutches, and then a walking stick, the plot moves closer to a denouement. We hear backstories about key players but an effort to provide some gravitas by writer Rachel Wagstaff by tying things together within a common theme of personal loss doesn’t really hit home.

This audience shows that the character of Miss Marple is well-loved and Susie Blake’s reliable and sympathetic portrayal of her steals the show. Who would have thought that this amiable old spinster’s first word on waking up from a dream at the start of the play would be “bugger”?


Reviewed on 31st October 2022

by Phillip Money

Photography by Ali Wright



For the full details of the UK Tour click here


Previously reviewed at this venue:


Animal Farm | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | May 2021
Animal Farm | ★★★★ | May 2021
Gin Craze | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | July 2021
Gin Craze | ★★★★ | July 2021
Blue / Orange | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | November 2021
Blue / Orange | ★★★★ | November 2021
The Wellspring | ★★★ | Royal & Derngate | March 2022
The Wellspring | ★★★ | March 2022
Playtime | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | September 2022
Playtime | ★★★★ | September 2022
The Two Popes | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | October 2022
The Two Popes | ★★★★ | October 2022


Click here to read all our latest reviews


Witness for the Prosecution

Witness for the Prosecution


London County Hall

Witness for the Prosecution

Witness for the Prosecution

London County Hall

Reviewed – 27th April 2022



“The courtroom setting is of course a highlight”


Witness For the Prosecution has been intriguing and entertaining tourists and Londoners alike since 2017, and I don’t see why it should stop any time soon.

Baby-faced Leonard Vole (Joshua Glenister) is being accused of murder, having been found in the wrong place at the wrong time, but despite his seemingly obvious innocence, the evidence is shaky. Will his open features and simple nature be enough to redeem him?

Agatha Christie does well to create this stuffy, old-boys’ club legal system full of lots of back-slapping middle-aged men. It feels almost timeless in that it could be 1850 just as easily as 1950. But in walks Leonard’s wife Romaine Vole (Lauren O’Neil) dressed all in black, and suddenly we’re in technicolour. The women are the flavour of this otherwise slightly musty courtroom drama, with Romaine leading the pack, feline and cryptic in beatnik beret and blood-red lipstick. But housekeeper Janet Mackenzie (Mandi Symonds) and even the hardly-seen jealous woman, and mysterious blond (Lily Blunsom-Washbrook) in the second half are a glorious disruption.

Where previous casts have chosen a slightly subtler route, this new production has opted for campy over-the-top histrionics which I think suits the echoey chamber and oft-nightmarish script perfectly. Leave the naturalism to the proscenium arches.
The courtroom setting is of course a highlight, the lofty ceilings and dark wood adding flair to what is otherwise a pretty conventional production. A select few are seated as the jury, and others are sat in the press gallery. The rest of us play a ghost audience to a murder trial that has happened many times before in this same space. It’s just unusual enough to appeal to the savvy theatre goer, and plenty accessible for the enthusiastic novice looking for a good story to get stuck into.

The production claims to be running only until September, but considering how long The Mousetrap has been going, I’d say there’s still a good appetite for Christie in the city, and Witness is a much snappier story in a far more engaging setting.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Ellie Kurttz


Witness for the Prosecution

London County Hall – currently booking until 25th September


Previous review of this show:
Witness For The Prosecution | ★★★★★ | September 2021


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