With the London production now spanning over 25,000 performances, it is clear that Agatha Christie’s play—set in the secluded, snow-bound Monkswell Manor Guest House where a murderer may be lurking—has a definitive penchant for drawing in audiences, and this new tour for 2016 brings all the elements from the West End show to audiences around the country.
The design of the warm and cozy scenery clashes gracefully with the ruthless and brutish on-stage antics.
Much of the opening of the play consists of young-ish proprietors Mollie (Anna Andresen) and Giles Ralston (Nick Barclay) meeting their new guests as they arrive. Each comes with their own distinguishable ticks, so we can quickly make up our own minds up about whom we like and whom we do not. The clashes between Christopher Wren (played with an almost Russell Kane-like amiability by Oliver Gully) and the Anne Hegerty fierceness of Mrs Boyle, (portrayed with the perfect mix of snobbery and bullishness by Sarah Whitlock) give us our first drizzles of sporadic comedy within the play. Following an altercation with Miss Casewell (Amy Downham) and the wireless, it becomes clear that Mrs Boyle is not a popular guest.
The second Act of this on-stage puzzle is really where the performance comes alive. The arrival of Sergeant Trotter (Lewis Collier) cues a number of revelations about Mrs. Boyle and her involvement in an adoption case, nicknamed Three Blind Mice. The eccentric Mr. Paravicini (Gregory Cox) and the highly reserved Major Metcalf (Tony Boncza) join the others in following Trotter’s instructions of retracing each others steps, which is where the plot reaches its climax and we discover who murdered Mrs. Boyle, and why.
The design of the warm and cozy scenery clashes gracefully with the ruthless and brutish on-stage antics. Nick Barclay makes us loath Giles Ralston for the way he treats his wife. Sgt Trotter’s occasional incompetence is displayed with a sense of vulnerability by Lewis Collier. Commendations for the actors could go on for pages but ultimately, this play’s success lies in its plot. Christie’s writing remains genius: it makes you think about the plot in ways that other writers do not. It ignites discussion during the interval and after the show. This production happily confirms why this play has enjoyed such longevity and is so well appreciated by audiences.