Touring – reviewed at Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Guest reviewer: Elizabeth J Smith
Murder, Margaret and Me is the story of an unlikely friendship between famed actress Margaret Rutherford and world-renowned Queen of Crime Agatha Christie. In the early sixties, these two national treasures were the creative force behind one of British cinema’s most successful franchises. But the Miss Marple movies were almost never made.
When the opening music starts I was transported back to a rainy Sunday afternoon in the 70s watching the black and white film reruns of Miss Marple. Margaret Rutherford from hence forward was my Miss Marple. So I was fascinated to learn she wasn’t Mrs Christies first choice, or choice at all.
This is a play about unlikely friendship and secrets. It explores the characters of two formidable women and their own inner struggles with their pasts and how that affects the present.
Lin Blakley, Agatha Christie, portrays the character with grace and charm. We see the character’s no nonsense side when dealing with the film director, the inquisitive side when trying to find out Margaret’s secret and the softer side when she realises she has upset her friend.
Sarah Parks, Margaret Rutherford, captures the stars idiosyncrasy. From the voice to how she moves. From her walk to how she throws her cape about. It wasn’t a caricature performance but a real tribute to the great lady herself.
Gilly Tompkins, the spinster, narrates the tale. Appearing, as I believe, as the Miss Marple Agatha had in her minds eye. She falls easily into the make up artist’s personality advising Margaret from a fans point of view. Separating the two characters by voice and movement only.
The play moves along effortlessly with flowing scene changes and a set that conjures up the feel of the time. Thanks to the design of Dawn Allsopp.
Written by Philip Meeks and directed by Damian Cruden who both portray these ladies so you feel it has been a privilege to spend the evening with them.
A well written, well executed play. With humour and sadness. A treat to see woman over a certain age hold the stage with great acting. A must see.