Skip to main content

Go Back For Murder

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars
There can't be many Agatha Christie pot-boilers that feature pre-show music by the Beatles. Yet this late period whodunnit revived here by director Joe Harmston's Official Agatha Christie Company is as groovy as when Hammer revived Dracula in swinging London. Blessed with a holy trinity of female leads, it's hard not to warm to such unabashed hokum.

First performed in 1960 but re-set here to1968, Christie's adaptation of her novel, Five Little Pigs, follows the tenacious travails of Carla Le Marchant, the twenty-something daughter of Caroline Crale. Caroline died in prison after being convicted twenty years before of the murder of her artist and serial adulterer husband, Amyas. Carla breezes from lawyer's office to drawing room and fancy restaurant looking for clues, quizzing her father's mistress, the family maid, her mother's sister and two very different brothers both in love with her mother. Once gathered in the family pile, all involved role-play the past to unravel a more ambiguous past.

This makes it necessary for the cast to play their younger selves, while Sophie Ward carries things as both mother and daughter. Where as Carla she sports a Judy Geeson bob and a Mondrian-patterned mini-dress, as Caroline she's a more demure post-war English rose. As Amyas' one-time muse, Elsa, Lysette Anthony is a drop-dead little madam on the make, while Liza Goddard's Miss Williams remains impeccably ageless.

With each scene punctuated by what sounds like a jazzy mash-up of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman and Dave Brubeck's Unsquare Dance, this is as hip as Christie gets. While hardly barricade-storming, Carla's final lead-taking embrace with her lawyer sidekick nevertheless points to a bright feminist future.

The Herald, February 14th 2013



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…


Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …