Crime caper needs an update
WANSTEAD Players kicked off the Kenneth More Theatre s 2009 season with a production of Agatha Christie s Cards on the Table. Directed by Peter Wilson, this was a lively piece that was highly entertaining in places. But generally it failed, I think, to ri
WANSTEAD Players kicked off the Kenneth More Theatre's 2009 season with a production of Agatha Christie's Cards on the Table.
Directed by Peter Wilson, this was a lively piece that was highly entertaining in places. But generally it failed, I think, to rise above the workmanlike, bogged down as it was by the 1930s language and conventions that lend such pieces an air of being cast in aspic.
As always with the Queen of Crime, there were shoals of red herrings and an upper-crust cast gathered in a smart house. All is going swimmingly, until the host has his organs fatally pierced with a dagger. Obviously, the killer is one of his guests, but who?
There was a talented cast who worked hard to breathe new life into the rather dated material. Pamela May's private detective Ariadne Oliver was witty and astute. This was a clear-eyed performance that was charming and believable.
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Carrie Beeson made a splendidly confident job of Mrs Lorimer, a bridge-loving widow with an intriguing past.
But I was less convinced by Liz Saunders and Mike May as her fellow guests Anne Meredith and Dr Roberts. Both had mastered their material, but neither of them seemed truly at home with their roles.
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Colin Imber seemed somewhat straitjacketed in his part as the supposedly adventurous Major Despard.
Bob Hutt did admirably with the heavy script of investigating Supt Battle, but again there was an air of uncertainty about this character, and it was not just to do with the fact that he was in the middle of a murder inquiry.
Sean Wilkinson was confident during his brief appearance as the party host Shaitana.
But I wondered about the staging of his murder. Why did the deadly dagger only appear later, instead of being found in his lifeless body?
There were also some sightline issues on a stage that included several sets. Sitting in the second row, I had difficulty seeing past Mrs Oliver's hefty desk into Mrs Lorimer's parlour. This piece of furniture could easily have been sited elsewhere, without prejudicing the action.
There were some lovely costumes and the lighting worked well. Avid Christie fans in the audience seemed rapt by it all.
But I couldn't help wondering if this piece wouldn't have benefited from an update.
Christie purists hate this, but I saw several of the pieces updated during a Christie festival a few years ago in Southend, and they seemed fresh and vibrant.
- SUE LEEMAN