Past, Present and Poirot
Clever and fast paced, the new production of Mrs. Christie from TheaterWorks Silicon Valley spans nearly 100 years to bring a real-life mystery to the stage.
Since their publication, Agatha Christie’s mysteries have captivated audiences across time and around the world. From Poirot solving a Murder on the Orient Express to the production of The Mousetrap playing on London’s West End since 1952, people love the mysteries penned by Agatha Christie.
But there is another mystery. One that has inspired movies, books, plays and even an episode of Doctor Who—and 11-day period of time in 1926 where the authoress herself disappeared. What she did and where she went during those 11 days is an enduring mystery that Christie herself refused to speak about. So when this play’s modern protagonist, Lucy, sees and unprecedented clue, she can’t help but investigate.
TheatreWorks’ production of Mrs. Christie masterfully weaves together two time periods, to tell the story of two women 100 years apart but connected by grief, desperation and the love of a good mystery.
In the interest of keeping the mystery alive, I won’t give any more of a plot summary. But it’s worth noting that the play is incredibly successful at blending Agatha Christie’s narrative with that of a modern woman. United by forces outside of their control, these two women drive the story forward in different ways while being united by the most important things—love, loss and mystery.
The last scene of Act I is an especially beautiful showcase of the magic and craft of theater in ways that highlight the mastery of TheatreWorks as a theater company. In 1926, Agatha Christie’s life seems to be coming apart at the seams. Her husband is threatening to leave her while parading his mistress through the dining room and Agatha’s publisher vies for her attention. Agatha’s secretary and friend is desperately trying to diffuse the situation by attempting to refocus the group on food and drink. With repeated cries of “Mrs. Christie,” the tension in the room rises to a crescendo along with the stress on the writer. Then, just as the action slows, the past is interrupted by the present where Lucy and the Miss Marple impersonator she befriended steal snacks from the same dining table and confront antagonists as they track down the clues left by Agatha Christie, still on stage, but unseen by the modern actors.
Mrs. Christie features a tight script that masterfully utilizes a small cast and cleverly-designed set to tell the stories of two women united in unlikely ways across time. Fun, poignant and clever enough to earn the Christie name, this is a show that everyone will enjoy, especially in the wake of a global pandemic.
Through: October 29, 2023
Where: 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041
Tickets: theatreworks.org, (877) 662 8976
Photos courtesy of Kevin Berne.
Please note that this show includes flashing lights, a live dog onstage and deals with themes of death and suicide.
A note on TheatreWorks:
We are so lucky as a community to have so much original and high-caliber theater here in the San Francisco Bay. Among these, however, TheatreWorks stands out as an exceptional gem. I have been attending TheatreWorks shows since before I can remember with my family, then school, then friends and now as a critic. And I am regularly blown away by their quality, ingenuity and scale. From the musical Emma’s songs that have stuck with me for more than a decade, to Archduke’s massive rotating set piece, to shows like Memphis which have gone on to international acclaim on Broadway and beyond, TheatreWorks is an incredible and wonderful theater company to have right here in Mountain View, California.
But the pandemic has been hard on theater companies. An art form that is dependent on gathering as a group is incredibly powerful, but also vulnerable in times of illness and struggle. We need to support and protect theaters now more than ever. In August 2023, TheatreWorks announced that its future was at risk and needs to raise $3 million to stay afloat. An imitate outpouring of support means that they are already more than 75% of the way to their goal.
Please consider helping this wonderful theater in any way you can. Go see the wonderful Mrs. Christie and bring your friends. If you are able to, please also consider donating to TheatreWorks or attending the Hershey Felder Benefit concert and sing along on October 11.
Thank you and I hope to see you at many more shows,