At the outset, we are introduced to Miss Clarissa Marbles – a witty play on Christie’s Miss Jane Marple, a legend adored by a generation. Marbles explains that she’s there to facilitate an investigation into the disappearance of Agatha Christie, and we are all key witnesses. And so begins a fully immersive experience into a world of jealousy, theft, infidelity and murder.
A fully immersive experience into a world of jealousy, theft, infidelity and murder.
Marbles – played by Prudence Wright Holmes – contextualises the show by explaining the circumstances of Christie’s disappearance. She left her home on a dark, stormy night on 3rd Dec 1926, leaving behind her young daughter sleeping soundly in bed. Marbles declares that no one shall leave the room until the investigation is complete. Through a series of notes, letters and items found across the venue, Marbles aims to provide some answers into Christie’s elusive disappearance, conjecturing on whether she had – like her many characters – met her untimely end.
Audience members are ushered on stage, where Marbles gives them an assumed identity and attempts to manipulate them into giving answers to questions they won’t possibly understand unless they are Christie aficionados. Through this mechanism, the audience becomes Sir Reginald Horncastle, Christie’s bridge partner; Elsie Cornfoot, a barmaid; and Roslyn Christie, Agatha’s daughter. All are cast into the spotlight of suspicion as they clumsily attempt to give Marbles the answers she seeks. Ultimately the audience get to vote on what they think happened to Agatha, and their answers vary from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Prudence Wright Holmes boldly and confidently leads this hour of audience interaction which is geared toward lovers of absurdist humour. She’s a natural director of the nonsensical, in her tea dress, pearls and knitting needles. However the premise of the plot is basic at best and anyone expecting a foray into the world of cosy crime will be sadly disappointed. The show lacks a depth and preparation which, if put in place, could elevate it to a fun piece of interactive theatre. As it was, audience members visibly recoiled in the hope that they wouldn’t be next to be directed on stage.
It’s fairly family friendly – a few double entendres about crumpets and pussies would probably go over the heads of most children, and are fairly inoffensive. If what you’re looking for is an hour of protracted audience interaction and a few Agatha Christie related gags, this is your bag.