The Mirror Crack’d – Gaiety Theatre – Review
Dates – 12th Mar. – 16th Mar.
Set in 1953, Miss Marple lives in the quiet English village of St. Mary Mead. All that is about to change though, as a Hollywood film company has arrived to film a period drama based on the wives of Henry VIII. Marina Gregg (Suzanna Hamilton) is a famous film star and she is playing the role of Catherine of Aragon. Lola Brewster (Gillian Saker) is a young and beautiful actress playing the part of Anne Boleyn. At a reception, Marina is cornered by a fan called Heather who tells her a long-winded story. When Heather drinks a cocktail intended for Marina, she dies on the spot! The drink was poisoned and there are a variety of potential suspects. Luckily, Miss Marple (Susie Blake) is on hand to solve the crime.
“The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side” is a novel by Agatha Christie which was published in 1962. It was later turned into a film simply called “The Mirror Crack’d” in 1980 and starred heavyweights such as Angela Lansbury, Kim Novak, Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson. This stage version is produced by the Wales Millennium Centre and Wiltshire Creative. The production started life in the Salisbury Playhouse and is currently touring the UK and Ireland, and is in the Gaiety for one week only. It was adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff (Flowers for Mrs Harris) with direction by Melly Still (Coram Boy).
The set was designed by Richard Kent and it is quite inventive with a transparent back wall. This allows us to see what is happening back stage, as those mentioned in the text appear above the heads of the actors.
This production has a number of familiar faces with Susie Blake (Coronation Street, Mrs Brown’s Boys) playing the sleuth and Chief Inspector Craddock played by Simon Shepherd (Peak Practice). There is a large ensemble cast who are well drilled, as even the simplest detail can be important in these cleverly conceived dramas. We see the night of the poisoning from a variety of perspectives as the Chief Inspector interviews the various people who attended. They all put their own slant on the happenings the night of the poisoning.
Almost everyone at the party has a relationship with the famous movie star and a potential reason to want her dead! This is an impressive reboot of the Miss Marple story that uses many techniques from film, with scenes replayed and fast forwarded through. It would be almost impossible to guess the ending, such are the variety of red herrings and coincidences on display. That doesn’t stop your mind coming up with a multitude of possibilities and unlikely scenarios, but that’s part of the fun. The whodunit is a much-loved genre and the work of Agatha Christie is right at the forefront of it! This production doesn’t tamper with the essentials but does show some invention and charm.
Cast – Susie Blake, Simon Shepherd, Joe Dixon, Suzanna Hamilton, Gillian Saker, Davina Moon, Katie Matsell, Katherine Manners, Julia Hills, Davina Moon, Huw Parmenter and Colin R Campbell
2hrs 25mins including an interval.