Ian C Douglas went to see Spider’s Web at the Theatre Royal...
A country manor. Weekend parties. Toffs and servants. Some mythical era before television or the fall of the Empire. Yes, we must be in Agatha Christie Land. And for fans of the Empress of Crime, this happens to be her second most successful play. Originally launched in 1954, this year the Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller season revives the play for audiences young and old.
A dead body in the drawing room. Secret tunnels. Blackmail. Antique dealers (always a shifty bunch, if you ask me) diplomats, retired colonels and plucky amateur sleuths. The Christie modus operandi is as on form as ever. Clarissa Hailsham-Brown invites some chums down for the weekend not knowing her husband Henry is expecting a high-ranking foreign guest. Meanwhile an unsavoury interloper with an Italian-sounding name gate-crashes the affair. We have all the ingredients for a vintage Christie mystery.
Only with the thrills comes the chuckles. Spider’s Web is a comedy thriller. Yes, the Dame of Murder did humour as well as whodunnits.
This is a long play, starting at 7:30pm with curtain fall at 10:10pm. The first act develops at its own pace. Until, as we approach intermission, the script seems to shift up a gear. The second act is laughs all the way. There are some regular faces among the Tab Productions cast making a welcome return to the Theatre Royal. And every performer delivers a solid, comedic performance.
Christie aficionados will be familiar with her style of scattering the clues ‘in plain sight’ as one of the characters says, with a nod to the stalls. Look out for incidental details of apparently no significance and you may have a clue. Particularly who was where and when. After all, what is more satisfying than correctly guessing the murderer?
Spider’s Web is good, clean escapist fun from a seeming age of innocence. Suitable for all the family. Come down and lose yourself in a murder mystery.
Spider’s Web plays at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal from Tuesday August 2nd 2022 to Saturday 6th August 2022.
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