Tag Archives: Sarah Lawrie

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


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Finborough Theatre



Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 10th January 2020



“a great example of a play that does not appeal to our human desire for resolution, but instead rightly demonstrates that the fight for true equality and justice is far from over”


Directed by Lily McLeish, Scrounger is an autobiographical play that recounts a traumatic incident experienced by Athena Stevens at London City Airport in 2015. Born with athetoid cerebral palsy, Stevens was removed from a British Airways flight when staff could not get her £30,000 electric wheelchair into the hold. When Stevens’ chair was returned to her, it was severely damaged, leaving her without autonomous mobility and trapped in her flat for months before she received settlement.

Through Twitter hashtags, an appeal to EU law, and a petition organised by campaign group 38 Degrees, Stevens boldly embarks on trying to a change a system that is inherently stacked against her.

Stevens however does not only point blame at our Conservative government, but also the show’s presumed audience, specifically, “the left leaning, Guardian reading, Daily Mail hating, Oxfam giving, colour blind seeing, red voting, paper straw using, conflict avoiding, zen loving, feminist supporting, always for the few…liberal minded you.” The villains of this story are not just the incompetent staff she had encountered, but Stevens’ yoga-loving boyfriend and obtusely middle-class friend Emma as well, all of whom are played excellently by Leigh Quinn.

A central theme of the play is conflict and the inherent privilege of being able to avoid it. Stevens notes that amongst her friends she is known as always being ‘up for a fight’ but explains that her very existence as a disabled individual necessitates this. The faith that Stevens’ boyfriend has in the legal system to deliver justice highlights this well and succeeds in making the audience consider how they too may just be another cog in the flawed machine.

The production is split into some-twenty chapters titled with an exciting summation of the contents of the coming scenes though what follows sometimes only lasts a couple of minutes. Simultaneously, when the chapters reach double figures, there is little plot to show for it. There would certainly be great benefit to the performance’s pace in amalgamating a few chapters.

There is also little to no sense of how much real time has passed until Quinn suddenly announces halfway through the show that it has been 35 days since the incident. Based on the events that have unfolded by this point, the audience would be safe to assume it had been less than a week. Signposting the days more clearly, and perhaps even replacing the chapter titles with the day count, would certainly help to reduce moments where the play feels stagnant.

A wonky white house set (Anna Reid) surrounds the stage with two respective doors and neon-framed windows for entrance, exit and pop-ups. When she’s not playing a plethora of different characters, Quinn sits at a desk to the front right of the stage from which she accesses several props, a soundboard and a microphone. The sound (Julian Starr) and lighting (Anthony Doran) does well to match the mood on stage, though some of the production’s most powerful moments occur when everything is stripped back and Stevens addresses the audience without the glitz and glamour of the theatre.

Scrounger offers an important narrative about oppression and non-linear progression. Crucially, Stevens’ story does not end in rainbows and sunshine with everything tied up in a little bow. There is no great monetary victory; no law created to protect those vulnerable to similar mistreatment; and no real consequences for the companies involved. Scrounger is a great example of a play that does not appeal to our human desire for resolution, but instead rightly demonstrates that the fight for true equality and justice is far from over.


Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Lily McLeish



Finborough Theatre until 1st February


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Jeannie | ★★★★ | November 2018
Beast on the Moon | ★★★★★ | January 2019
Time Is Love | ★★★½ | January 2019
A Lesson From Aloes | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Maggie May     | ★★★★ | March 2019
Blueprint Medea | ★★★ | May 2019
After Dark; Or, A Drama Of London Life | ★★★★ | June 2019
Go Bang Your Tambourine | ★★★★ | August 2019
The Niceties | ★★★ | October 2019
Chemistry | ★★★ | November 2019


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