Theatre Royal Nottingham is back again this summer with their season of classic thrillers by Colin McIntyre. This year the theatre will be putting on three new murder mysteries. Who Killed “Agatha” Christie by Tudor Gates, Spider’s Web by Agatha Christie and Night Must Fall by Emlyn Williams all are meant to draw humour and suspense from the audience. The season started with Who Killed “Agatha” Christie, a comedy murder mystery about a failed playwright John who is obsessed with getting revenge on a drama critic Arthur “Agatha” Christie who he claims has been damaging his career. So the play goes along with John's ingenious plot to trap Arthur by exposing the affair between Jo (John’s wife) and Brain (Arthur’s partner) as a way to trap Arthur.
I approached the play with no prior knowledge about the production of Colin McIntyre's thrillers. Unfortunately, I found the play hard to follow and struggled to stay engaged due to the dialogue and minimal story. The first Act set the scene by giving background to Arthur, John, Jo and Brain’s characters but did so longwindedly. The punch lines and jokes didn’t land with me and felt predictable. In terms of the actor's performance I felt John Goodrum couldn’t hold the devious villain character that John Terry was meant to be, it lacked the charismatic energy of one who set up the perfect crime. However, I did enjoy John Goodrum’s enthusiasm for the role. David Gilbrook’s performance was good as he portrayed the elderly drama critic, Arthur, really well and held up as a supporting actor.
During the interval, I had the opportunity to speak to audience members and get their take on the play. Overall, there were mixed reactions, where those who knew the history/tradition behind the classic thrillers found it outstanding, even stating how they’ve found comfort in coming to the seasonal production each year. However, the people from outside Nottingham that were used to modern productions didn’t find the acting and script appealing; one person specifically said they found the language/grammar style and the plot hard to follow.
Overall, I did not enjoy the play which may be due to generational gaps and cultural differences. After doing research into the play/production, I found out it’s been on since the late 1980s and is based in 1978, it help me understand the context and the reason for some creative choices. Also, watching it gave me insight into the history of the genre and helped me appreciate the journey/evolution of murder mysteries. However, even though the play wasn’t to my taste I would recommend it to those who enjoy traditional plays or would like to experience traditional theatre.
Who Killed “Agatha” Christie is currently still on and is part of the seasonal production of Colin McIntyre’s classic thrillers at Theatre Royal Nottingham. It will be showing from Tuesday 12 to Saturday 16 July.
While the rest of the trilogy will on from:
Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 August Spider’s Web
Tuesday 9 – Saturday 13 August Night Must Fall
For more information on tickets and the production:
Theatre Royal Nottingham website