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Murder, Margaret & Me
8th October 2019 - 12th October 2019
Tilted Wig Productions, Malvern Theatres and Churchill Theatre Bromley present
Murder, Margaret & Me
Written by Philip Meeks
Directed by Damian Cruden
Designed by Dawn Allsopp
Agatha Christie turns sleuth in a play by Philip Meeks. Starring Lin Blakley (EastEnders) as Agatha Christie.
Agatha Christie and Margaret Rutherford should never have been friends. But they were. Their paths crossed when they found themselves at the heart of one of British cinema’s most successful franchises. However, the Miss Marple films almost didn’t get made. Murder, Margaret and Me is a story of friendship, identity and the achievement of women in the long-lost world of the silver screen.
Malvern Theatres is delighted to present this third co-production with Tilted Wig productions, who also brought you Great Expectations and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Murder Margaret and Me is an exciting play which tells the story of two of our greatest and most celebrated national treasures.
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes (including interval)
Production photos by Craig Sugden
Choice Radio, Worcester
Murder, Margaret and Me is a three-hander about the queen of thriller writers, Agatha Christie, and an actress who played one of her main characters Miss Marple, Margaret Rutherford - both of whom are considered National Treasures and who both became Dames later in life. Philip Meeks's story (originally a one-woman show - hence the title - and partly based on an archive of letters supplementing the known facts) explores the unlikely relationship which developed between the two women whilst introducing one other character, the Spinster - otherwise referred to as "old woman" - who is a waif-life person resembling a typical reader's view of Miss Marple herself, cleverly linking and commenting on the stories and characters.
Clearly Miss Rutherford was a force to be reckoned with and she certainly had no particular interest in Miss Christie or her books. She never read such novels, admitting only to liking some of the romantic writings of a certain Mary Westmacott, which, as Agatha pointedly indicated to her was her very own pseudonym. Nor did Agatha think she was right for the role so it was a rather strained friendship which ensued, not starting well when Agatha, uninvited and unexpected, arrives on the studio stage to watch proceedings and continuing when Agatha was introduced to Margaret's "family".
Lin Blakley (Pam Coker in Eastenders) plays Agatha, a prim and proper granny of a character, lovable and yet to be feared one suspects, who takes no prisoners, much like the villains in her plays with whom she often sympathises at the expense of the actual victims. Sarah Parks has the task of portraying a forthright Miss Rutherford, about whom the film critic Kenneth Tynan commented "she can act with her chin alone" - her amusing facial expressions are clearly visible here too. Gilly Tompkins plays the Spinster, spending much of time on stage knitted whilst the appropriately dressed stage-hands move the film set furniture about.
Unexpected as it might have been, a friendship - and a level of mutual admiration - did build between the two women as each of them had a dark secret, revealed in the last quarter of the play which a serious and tense conversation between the two, removing the levity of the previous, often humorous, interactions. There are some amusing mentions too of a certain Belgian fellow, who appears to be more like nose around the neck of Miss Christie or, rather, Agatha Christie Limited, which she notes with disappointment that she has become, not knowing quite how to bump off that particular character!
Tilted Wig have joined forces again with Malvern Theatres (and the Churchill Theatre, Bromley) to produce this version of the play, which was originally staged in 2012 at the Edinburgh Fringe, following on from previous successful productions at the theatre and next Spring, they will be bringing their adaptation of one of the most controversial books in English literature, Lady Chatterly's Lover, to Malvern. Over 14s only!
And in true Tilted Wig's unconventional style, instead of the usual programme, you get what looks very convincingly like a dog-eared and well-worn paperback novel, which gives a mass of interesting information about the production and everyone involved.