GO BACK FOR MURDER: Agatha Christie
Bill Kenwright Tour
Runs: 2h, one interval, to 30 11 13
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 25 11 13, Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
A period piece that still pleases.
I’m never surprised how popular Agatha Christie thrillers are; I’m always surprised how intriguing they are – now why’s that?
GO BACK FOR MURDER is, in many ways, a classic thriller – a well-to-do artist brings his lover to his marital home, he’s murdered and suspicion (and eventually a guilty verdict) falls upon his wife. Christie then decides to explore this story in an unconventional way; the wife writes to their daughter – now grown up – to say she’s innocent. The daughter, her mother now dead, decides to investigate.
She interviews all the suspects individually, then, with the aid of solicitor friend, re-enacts the fateful hours leading up to the murder.
What results is an intriguing play, theatrical and revealing in its own terms. For a start each actor must play across a time-span of 20 years. But time manifests itself in other ways – Christie’s adaptation is 1960s, her novel 1940s – we have, then, a built in culture juxtaposition. The play serves as a kind of time capsule.
The re-enacted story opens up additional levels; this is a story about truth, the way we manufacture truth from remembered, half-remembered, inaccurately remembered and partially heard conversations.
Many of these levels are acknowledged in Joe Harmston’s artful production. Whether it’s in the skill with which the company negotiates the period feel and dialogue, in young Carla’s 1960s op-art dress – ‘Is that a Mary Quant?’, or in the loud camera-shutter-like sound that demarcates scenes and memories.
Some strong performances. Sophie Ward creates a welcoming (and engaging) Carla Le Marchant – with a nice double as her mother, and Ben Nealon a charming (and engaging) young solicitor, Justin Fogg. Liza Goddard is a gorgeous governess, Miss Williams – and we wish we saw more of her.
A genuine period whodunnit, genuinely performed; much to think about, too.
Carl Le Marchant: Sophie Ward
Justin Fogg: Ben Nealon
Turnball: Mark Lisseman
Philip Blake: Robert Duncan
Meredith Blake: Antony Edridge
Lady Elsa Greer: Lysette Anthony
Miss Williams: Liza Goddard
Angela Warren: Georgia Neville
Amras Crale: Gary Mavers
Caroline Crale: Sophie Ward
Director: Joe Harmston
Set Designer: Simon Scullion
Lighting Designer: Douglas Kuhrt
Sound Designer and Composer: Matthew Bugg
Costume Designer: Brigid Guy