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Agatha Christie’s Murder on Air at the Theatre Royal Windsor

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 19th Aug 2014 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

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This most original and unusual production is certainly among the most entertaining I’ve seen.

It’s classy, nostalgic, and features thrilling yarns with unexpected climaxes. It’s great fun and has a huge novelty factor but, most of all, it lifts the lid on just how complex performing a radio play can be.

Set in a studio, at a time when actors turned up in evening dress to perform on ‘the wireless’, three of Christie’s radio plays are read in the style of their original BBC broadcasts by members of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company.

Personal Call (circa 1954), surrounds phone calls a man is getting from his former wife - who died the previous year; The Yellow Iris (1937) features Hercule Poirot who gets a mysterious call to a nightclub to avert a crime, while Butter in a Lordly Dish (1948) concerns a KC and dedicated philanderer who, after another successful prosecution, arranges to meet his latest conquest. But he has a surprise in store.

All are superbly performed by a versatile and talented company, not least guest stars Jenny Seagrove and Tom Conti who, though reading the scripts as a radio actor would, hams up his performance by giving the audience knowing looks and appearing so relaxed that at one point on the opening night he seemingly missed one of his cues, much to the amusement of his fellow cast members.

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I love radio plays and this really opened my eyes as to how they are performed. At times though I had to close them and listen to the story. There is so much going on on stage that I was distracted… which makes me want to see it again so I can take in more.

Timing is of the essence, particularly when it comes to the sound effects, expertly provided by foley artist (one who creates sound effects) Alexander S Bermange, whose work was so fascinating I could watch on entire show centred on him alone. Adrian Metcalfe also deserves a special mention for his wonderful imitation of trains, while Elizabeth Payne proved she had a worthy extra string to her bow as a singer, ably accompanied by the aforementioned Alexander S Bermange.

A step back in the history of the BBC, a lesson in broadcasting, and hugely entertaining, this really is a must see!

Just one thing: why did dedicated animal lover Jenny Seagrove wander on stage at the beginning of the evening with an elderly dog who walked up to its own little microphone and then walk off? No-one seems to know!


Agatha Christie’s Murder on Air is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until August 23

Box Office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor

The tour then continues:

September 1-6: Theatre Royal Brighton

September 16-20: Salford Quays Theatre, Manchester

www.kenwright.com


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