By Gillie Tunley.
The author Philip Meeks has had a lifelong obsession with Agatha Christie and was inspired by the idea of turning Agatha Christie sleuth to uncover Margaret Rutherford’s dark secret. His sensitive and witty script is laced with intrigue and delightful humour.
The Progress Theatre Company gave us a truly memorable evening in a beautifully crafted production by the insightful Kate Shaw. The sets are simple and evocative and serve to enhance the drama, as do the wistful period sound tracks.
We are drawn into the performance by the wonderfully warm and worldly Spinster, the seeker after uncomfortable truths, played by the thoroughly engaging Dorothy Gibert, symbolically knitting the sequence of events, which segue seamlessly throughout.
Paula Montie gives a stunning portrayal of Agatha Christie, formidable, gleefully morbid yet touchingly vulnerable. Whilst she does not approve of the substantial and comedic Margaret Rutherford being cast as the birdlike Miss Marple, she is drawn to her because she senses an underlying sadness beneath that ebullient exterior; a sadness she recognises in herself. Indeed, the knowing Spinster recognises they have more in common than what separates them.
Margaret Rutherford is superbly and robustly played by Liz Carroll. She expresses her aversion to the sordid nature of murder… whilst delicately conveying her underlying pain. The comic moments are quite delightful – watch out for the ‘wayward walnut’!
Despite initial hostility, their friendship develops and Agatha is even introduced to Margaret’s endearing stuffed animal family, in particular Minny the winsome rabbit and Nicodemus, a glamorous cat bestowed by ‘Prince Juan’ (in fact Silver Al, a notorious gangster!), winningly re-enacted by the Spinster.
The final denouement is powerful and searingly emotional, with Margaret relating her terrible family secret and Agatha describing her disappearance and turbulent marriage break-up. This was truly a tour de force performance by stellar actresses. I left the theatre emotionally stunned. This is a totally compelling theatre experience, don’t miss it!
- The Progress Theatre website and Facebook page
- ‘Murder, Margaret and Me’ at the Progress Theatre
- Progress Theatre tickets