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REVIEW: The Mirror Crack’d at Cambridge Arts Theatre

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Here is Agatha Christie at her very best. Susie Blake is a wonderful Miss Marple.

This incarnation is played with humour, compassion, depth, and perfect comic timing. Her performance is a privilege to see.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

Her willing accomplice and partner in crime is an absolutely brilliant Veronica Roberts as Miss Marple’s “jolly hockey sticks” friend Dolly Bantry.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

Again, this is a bravura performance. She has the role down to her fingertips.

This is murder most funny.

And a great many of those laughs – and the lightness in the show come from Mara Allen as Miss Marple’s maid, Cherry Baker from Croydon.

Having actually come from Croydon, I recognised not just the accent but the gestures, intonation, and indignation.

She has a working class girl from London down to a tee. Spot on comic delivery.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

The play’s title comes, of course from Tennyson’s poem The Lady of Shallot. Imprisoned in a castle in Camelot, she is told she is allowed to look at the world only through a mirror, as she weaves her tapestry.

If she ever looks outside through the window and sees the world at first hand, she will be cursed. But it’s too much to bear – she breaks the rules, just once, and looks at the world for real.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

“The mirror crack’d from side to side, The curse has come upon me cried, The Lady of Shallot.”

Agatha Christie’s story is set in the home counties in the 1960s.

There is a lot about class in it and the changes that took place in that era.

The once wealthy Dolly Bantry has walked through the “new development” and finds to her horror: “Girls pushing prams without a wedding ring in sight.” and a supermarket where you take a basket and are expected to help yourself to the goods. Whatever next!

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

Having lost her husband, and been ruined by death duties, Dolly has sold her palatial home to film star Marina Gregg (played adroitly by Sophie Ward) who arrives with her entourage – and it seems, someone determined to kill her.

Chief Inspector Craddock (Oliver Boot) is on the case of course but we know he is never going to solve it without the help of Miss Marple.

An ingenious set by designer Adrian Linford allows the characters to play out the “flashbacks” as the witnesses tell Inspector Craddock and Miss Marple the story.

This new adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff, performed by The Original Theatre Company, is full of fun and expertly delivered.

There are good performances too from Jules Melvin as the killer’s first victim, the film fan Heather Leigh, David Partridge as Heather’s husband Cyril Leigh and Chystine Symone as Marina’s co-star Lola Brewster.

Crisply directed by Philip Franks, this show is fast-paced, witty, and an engaging evening out.

The Mirror Crack’d is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 4.

 

 

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