Writer: Philip Meeks
Director: Stella Duffy
Reviewer: Selwyn Knight
The Public Reviews Rating:
To any aficionado of Agatha Christie, the casting of Margaret Rutherford as the big screen Miss Marple seems, in hindsight, a rather bizarre decision. Apparently, Christie herself was unsure as to what sort of job Rutherford might make and visited the set to keep an eye on proceedings. Murder, Marple and Me takes place in Rutherford’s dressing room with Janet Prince taking the roles of Rutherford, Christie and an unnamed narrator who it’s assumed is Miss Marple.
At the centre of the play is the remarkable life story of Rutherford herself, teased out by Christie as they become acquaintances and ultimately friends. Rutherford’s life and that of her family and those around her, is, indeed, an amazing story, which is brought to life by Prince in the cramped and intimate space of the Wee Room. Rutherford’s ebullient persona is clearly portrayed, as are the usually hidden, more vulnerable aspects – spells in mental hospitals, for example, following childhood trauma. The growing friendship with Christie is believable. Stella Duffy’s direction ensures that there are no flat spots nor any doubt as to which character is addressing us.
Unfortunately, at the performance this reviewer attended, Prince became a touch discombobulated as her hair fell out of its bun and refused to behave subsequently. She then needed to ask for a prompt at one tense point as secrets were about to be revealed. To her credit, she remained in character at this point and the momentum was quickly restored.
This was a fascinating glimpse into the life of an iconic character actress, and comes highly recommended.
Runs until 26 August