Association of Community Theatre

Show Reviews 2017


by Agatha Christie

Altrincham Little Theatre


Directed by John Chidgey


Like many people, I do enjoy a good murder-mystery and one of the greatest writers of this genre is Agatha Christie. I arrived at the theatre with great expectations, and was not disappointed.


The play revolves around Leonard Vole who is arrested for the murder of Emily French, a wealthy older woman. Unaware that he was a married man, Miss French made him her principal heir thus casting suspicion on Leonard. When his wife, Romaine, agrees to testify, she does so not do so in Leonard's defence but as a witness for the prosecution.


Romaine's decision is part of a complicated plan to free her husband. She first gives the prosecution its strongest evidence, then fabricates new evidence that discredits her testimony, believing that this improves Leonard's chances of acquittal, far more than her testimony for the defence. As in most Christie stories there are twists and turns throughout the plot and this play is no exception. Judging from the audience gasps of surprise at the conclusion of the play they were also just as enthralled in the drama as I was.

This was a play in two acts, both with two scenes. Each act had a scene in Sir Wilfred Robarts’ Chambers and the other in the Old Bailey Courtroom. Both of the sets were simple yet engaging but the thing that struck me most was the lighting. The Chamber scenes had two thirds of the stage, while the audience could see part of the Old Bailey scene, the lighting expertly established distinct stage boundaries for the actors to move within. As we moved into the Old Bailey, the stage was filled with light.


A clever thing this experienced director did was to use the audience as the jury in both acts. During the courtroom scenes they were spoken to by all the actors thus meaning they were fully involved in the plot and it also made us all listen intently to the evidence.


The actors purposefully, clearly and eloquently delivered their dialogue.


Anthony Morris (Leonard) came across well as the victim and showed a range of emotions throughout, from scared accused, full of anguish, to confident schemer. Vicky Siddle (Romaine), who played the calculating wife, had good impassioned delivery of dialogue and her facial expressions also displayed this coldness towards her husband. David Reynolds (Sir Wilfred Robarts) had the bulk of the dialogue and delivered it clearly and at a good pace that kept the audience informed of the plot.


All other actors also delivered their dialogue confidently. What did impress me was the great discipline from all onstage, especially in the court scenes, where a great deal of the dialogue took place. Not one person relaxed their character or detracted from the scenes being played out.


There were comedic moments in this play and were accomplished due to the delivery, speed and timing of the dialogue, This, I felt, was especially true of Robert Smith (Inspector Hearne), David Reynolds and Arthur Hulse (Mr Justice Wainwright).


All on and off stage are to be commended for creating a most enjoyable evening.