It is 1960s England and a wind of change is blowing through the land. It has even reached the sleepy village of St. Mary Mead. There’s a new housing estate to make the villagers curious and fearful. And even stranger, a rich American film star has bought the Manor House.
The Mirror Crack’d is adapted from Agatha Christie’s novel Side to Side, published in the UK in 1962. It was also made into a Miss Marple movie from 1980 of the same name, with a star studded cast, including Angela Lansbury and Elizabeth Taylor.
This new stage adaptation from Rachel Wagstaff sees Susie Blake as Miss Marple (Victoria Wood’s As Seen on TV, Coronation Street, Mrs. Brown’s Boys), Sophie Ward (A Very British Scandal, Holby City, Land Girls) and Joe McFadden (Holby City, Heartbeat and Strictly Come Dancing 2017 winner) as the main characters.
Opening with a dream sequence, Miss Marple and all the characters are visually introduced with no dialogue. This sets the mood for the whole play, with a hint of what’s the come, but uncertainty as to how it will all unfold. At this point the main focal point of the stage is also revealed, a large rectangular box shape, made up of glass windows and doorways at either end; this is cleverly rotated throughout the play and left in various positions to define either an exterior scene, such as the outside of a house, or internal scenes from different rooms highlighted in the plot. This rotating box allows the actors to come and go from each wing as it spans the whole stage, giving an illusion of just stepping into or out of a room.
Aside from the occasional chair or table, the supporting set and lighting is very sparse to allow the focus to be on the actors themselves. The stage was populated by a well rounded, talented and accomplished cast headed up by the wonderful Susie Blake in the role of Miss Marple. The actors didn’t seem to be miked up which left the audience straining to hear the dialogue. That said, on the press night there was a person front, stage right that signed all the way through, which is something I’ve rarely seen before in a performance.
Although penned as a classic ‘who dunnit’ Agatha Christie, Miss Marple murder mystery, there are brief moments when characters open up to show their loss and heartache in reference to loved ones past or estranged, rooting them in reality as more relatable people, and in the end you’re left wondering as to whether you feel sorry for the murderer or not. The play is well presented and pared-down to let the plot line shine through.
If you’re a murder mystery fan, you’ll love it, if you’ve never seen or experienced an Agatha Christie story, this is a classic that will leave you wanting more.
The Mirror Crack’d will be on stage at The Alexandra Theatre from Tuesday 14th Feb – Saturday 18th Feb. Purchase your tickets here!
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