By the time we saw The Mirror Crack’d at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley – which runs until 26th November – we had already had insights from actor Oliver Boot, Chief Inspector Craddock in the play in our recent podcast interview, here.
Oliver loves performing in the show, and we loved watching it. Coincidentally, his was one of the outstanding performances, as the smart, but often outwitted, foil to Miss Marple, played with excellent comic timing by Susie Blake. Did we say comic timing? In a murder mystery by the Queen of Crime? Well, yes, because the plot, which got darker and darker as the night proceeded, was relieved by humour, especially in the first half. Rachel Wagstaff’s adaptation, directed by Philip Franks, imported that very successfully, as well as one or two modern themes and hints at Miss Marple’s past that were absent from the source material. The production was also aided by a rather ingenious mirrored stage centrepiece, which did enough to transform the backdrop to different settings, from glittering, to tense and spooky. The cast were dressed in some very impressive costumes (thank you, Katie Higgins), adding a treat to the eye as well as the brain.
The plot? That we can only hint at. Much-desired, but reluctantly ageing and rich actress Marina Gregg (Sophie Ward) meets an incapacitated Miss Marple conveniently in time for a murder to be unravelled. Is it her loving husband (Joe McFadden), one of the staff of her establishment, or one of her friends? If she has any friends…. What lay behind it? What clues were there from the views of each person present when it happened? Would more follow, and why? Were Lola Brewster (Chrystine Symone) and Cherry Baker (Mara Allen) who they appeared to be? Was Guiseppe Renzo (another notable performance, by Lorenzo Martelli) a quiet servant or more than met the eye?
The real triumph of the production, though, was in retaining audience attention from the first minute to the last, as a stream of large and small revelations offered new insights into the past of the characters and their motives for, of course, murder.
To find out the answer to these questions, you’ll have to see the play. Tickets here.
Darren and Jacqui Weale, 23rd November 2022