Time-travelling thriller from Agatha Christie questions memories
Princess Theatre, Torquay
A play of two distinct halves, Agatha Christie's intriguing tale is based on her 1942 novel Five Little Pigs, the title referencing Christie's personal challenge to limit potential suspects to five, each with an apparent alibi.
An up-beat opening catapults audiences into the late 1960s as young Canadian Carla determinedly sets out to prove her late mother's innocence of murder. Meeting with lawyer Justin Fogg, present at the original trial, the two arrange a series of meetings where suspects, revealing a myriad of psychological complexities, urge Carla to let the past rest.
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Sophie Ward (Carla/Caroline) and Ben Nealon (Fogg) keep the action strongly focused, maintaining pace. Through short scenes, delineated with minimal props, the story gathers momentum until in Act Two when, with a leap of imagination and a touch of time travel, the fateful events of summer 1948 are re-enacted. Here designer Simon Scullion's spacious set comes into its own, revealed as an elegant garden room with wide-reaching views over the south coast, perfect backdrop for the bohemian society enjoyed by Carla's artist father Amyas (Gary Mavers), his latest muse Elsa (Lysette Anthony) and their friends.
Directed by Joe Harmston, the cast includes Liza Goddard (Take Three Girls and Clancy in Skippy the Bush Kangaroo) as loyal governess Miss Williams and Georgia Neville, her young charge Angela.
A carefully plotted play that enthrals Christie fans, the story begs the question that memory is both fragile and uncertain; that recollections are based on what people choose to remember, or even to forget.
The Torquay run ends tomorrow.