Go Back For Murder, written by Agatha Christie, last night began a run at the Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, in a performance by the Agatha Christie Theatre Company, which each year for the past decade has taken a Christie play around the country. I was lucky enough to be offered tickets (long story!) and so, after the fun of watching The Mousetrap in London recently, I jumped at the chance to see this much less renowned play.
And I was very glad I did. The play is based on one of Christie's finest novels, Five Little Pigs. Robert Barnard, no mean judge of Christie, reckons that it is arguaby her best book,and certainly the characterisation is a bit deeper than Christie usually offers.The plot is intriguing, but what I admire most about the story is a very chilling image associated with the commission of the crime. To say more would be a spoiler, but I was pleased to see that the play retained that image, and deployed it very effectively.
A major difference between book and play is that the former features Hercule Poirot, whereas on the stage the detective work is done by a team comprising Carla, daughter of the late Caroline Crayle, convicted years ago of murdering her husband, and her solicitor. This device works very well, in my opinion. The story is somewhat static, and this is evident in the first act of the play, as the detail about the Crayle case is conveyed to the audience, but the second act contains much more movement.
The cast is exceptional. Liza Goddard, Sophie Ward and Lysette Anthony are dazzling actresses. Lysette Anthony was once dubbed "the face of the Eighties" by David Bailey, and at the age of 50 she is truly beautiful. Among the male actors, I was delighted to see Gary Mavers, whom I got to know about ten years ago. Gary comes from Liverpool, and there was a plan for him to play Harry Devlin in a TV series that never got made (there were several such series, sad to say!) I still have somewhere the photos of Gary, as Harry, looking moody on the Liverpool waterfront. He once invited me to see him act in a murder mystery play in Manchester, and it was great to see him here in a very different role, as the murder victim Amyas Crayle. All in all, a very good evening's entertainment.