Tag Archives: Lin Blakley

Murder, Margaret & Me


Churchill Theatre Bromley & UK Tour

Murder, Margaret & Me

Murder, Margaret & Me

Churchill Theatre Bromley

Reviewed – 27th September 2019



“maintains what can only be described as a majestic pace throughout”


In Murder, Margaret and Me by Philip Meeks, and produced by Tilted Wig Productions, mystery writer Agatha Christie turns sleuth as she attempts to discover tragedy, and a murder, buried in the childhood of film star Margaret Rutherford. It sounds like an intriguing idea for a play, and playwright Meeks sets up Murder, Margaret and Me as a three hander for “women of a certain age” as he puts it in the programme. Based on true facts about Christie and Rutherford, this play even has all the elements of glamour one would expect in a story about a bestselling author, a film star and an ever-knitting hanger-on (who, as a devoted fan, keeps the action moving along).

Set in 1962, Murder, Margaret and Me opens on a film set in Pinewood Studios as Christie discovers that she and Rutherford have very different ideas about how Christie’s character Miss Marple should be played. In a ruthless attempt to wrest control of her creation back from Rutherford and her Hollywood producers, Christie sets out on a mission to discover all she can about Rutherford and what really lurks behind the beloved star’s eccentric public persona. Of course, Christie herself has a few skeletons buried inside her closet, and as the play proceeds, we get tantalising clues about those as well.

This is such rich material, and it is presented to us by the gifted cast of Lin Blakley (as Christie), Sarah Parks (as Rutherford) and Gilly Tompkins (as The Spinster). Director Damian Cruden does solid work, as do designers Dawn Allsopp and Richard G Jones. The costumes, supervised by Molly Syrett, give an appropriate sense of period. But if audiences come expecting to be held on the edge of their seats in the same way that Christie holds us in her novels, they will be disappointed.

Murder, Margaret and Me maintains what can only be described as a majestic pace throughout. While this gives the audience ample time to reflect on how artistic rivalries can ultimately poison a blossoming friendship, it does not create the sense of suspense and excitement that usually accompanies this kind of subject matter. Despite the witty dialogue and engaging characters, Meeks takes too long to bring all the elements of his plot together. Furthermore, there are some elements that are not well integrated, such as at the opening of the second half, where a before the curtain address to the audience gives advice on how to keep your man. (Christie advises marrying an archaeologist since “the older you get, the more interested in you he becomes”). The Spinster (or should she really be called the Knitter?) is a two-dimensional character at best, despite Gilly Tompkins’ best efforts to make her more fully realised.

This is a well-intentioned effort to show that women who come to success later in life have all the energy and passion required to imagine great futures for themselves, and to play hard to get them, even when swathed in tweeds, pearls and knitting. But it falls short in the attempt. Actresses of the calibre required to play characters like Christie and Rutherford should have opportunities to be let loose to show the full range of human passions, especially when rooted in childhood tragedy, and betrayals of art, love and friendship.


Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Craig Sugden


Murder, Margaret & Me

Churchill Theatre Bromley until 28th September then UK Tour continues


Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
Chekhov In Moscow | ★★★★ | The Space | August 2019
Great Expectations | ★★★★ | The Geffrye Museum of the Home | August 2019
Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Four | ★★★ | Apollo Theatre | August 2019
Macbeth | ★★★ | Temple Church | August 2019
Queen Of The Mist | ★★★★ | Charing Cross Theatre | August 2019
Showtune | ★★★★ | Union Theatre | August 2019
The Time Of Our Lies | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | August 2019
Heartbeat Of Home | ★★★★ | Piccadilly Theatre | September 2019
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story | ★★★★★ | Wilton’s Music Hall | September 2019
The Bacchae | ★★★ | Bread & Roses Theatre | September 2019


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Other People’s Money

Southwark Playhouse

Other People's Money

Other People’s Money

Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed – 23rd April 2019



“Lin Blakley stole the show as Bea Sullivan”


Blue Touch Paper Productions present Jerry Sterner’s 1989 drama-comedy with style and credence as audiences find out what men and women of all shapes, sizes and classes can do with Other People’s Money.

Touching base at a time when America is clawing its way back from the precipice of bankruptcy, we meet a coasting, family-run wire and cable company in New England who are about to have their business acumen and their morality tested by Wall Street tough guy Lawrence Garfinkle, a.k.a. Larry the Liquidator (Rob Locke). Friendly, neighbourhood business owner Andrew Jorgenson (Michael Brandon) and his company manager William Coles (Mark Rose) seek help from Jorgy’s secretary/no nonsense lawyer Kate Sullivan (Amy Burke) when Larry’s interest starts to cost more than smiles and doughnuts.

Director Katherine Farmer and designer Emily Leonard carefully align two contrasting offices opposite each other in traverse staging. The raked seating that straddles the stage allows the audience to spectate, jury-like as Garfinkle and Jorgenson play corporate hard ball on a sneakily camouflaged, faded tennis court flooring. As well as creating a cold, war room atmosphere, the confidently selected set throws into relief the essence of the two armies; the rich versus the poor. The modern, sleek, uncluttered desk of a tycoon facing down the, honest, simple hardwood workstation of a man’s livelihood.

Interestingly, it is easy to tell when the actors enjoy the scenes; Larry and Kate, though initially struggling to find each of their character’s presence on stage, give us a fun flavour of their chemistry together in the later scenes. However, the writing is wordy and difficult to navigate if you do not have a calculator for a brain or actors who liven up the figures.

Lin Blakley stole the show as Bea Sullivan, Jorgy’s steadfast secretary with a shining soul. Through her candid, controlled performance the audience are able to access the heart and true value of what family can mean in a company like theirs. Her relatable characterisation marries comedic timing and fierce emotion so easily making her a pleasure to watch and a home comfort to hold onto in the world of money madness.

This production successfully leads us to believe that the corporate world is killer, which begs the question: is it even possible for good people to do good business?


Reviewed by Vivienne King

Photography by Craig Sugden


Other People’s Money

Southwark Playhouse until 11th May


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Wasted | ★★★ | September 2018
The Sweet Science of Bruising | ★★★★ | October 2018
The Trench | ★★★ | October 2018
Seussical The Musical | ★★★★ | November 2018
The Funeral Director | ★★★★★ | November 2018
The Night Before Christmas | ★★★ | November 2018
Aspects of Love | ★★★★ | January 2019
All In A Row | ★★ | February 2019
Billy Bishop Goes To War | ★★★ | March 2019
The Rubenstein Kiss | ★★★★★ | March 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com