I have just been to see a play, written by Chris Jaeger, and staged by Worcester Repertory Company at the intimate Kings Theatre in Cheddar, about Agatha Christie. It is a one woman show, with Liz Grand in the role of Agatha and, I have to say, she inhabits the part perfectly. Whether it is Agatha or not is another matter, but she comes on stage, middle-aged and matronly, about to go to the opening night of The Mousetrap and engages with the audience in a one sided dialogue – the sort of cozy intimate chat she might have had with a close friend of many years minus the responses – that is both revealing, letting you into her secrets, and yet artfully concealing of her true feelings.
The subtitle of the play gives a broad hint as to the direction this chat takes – “The Mystery of Agatha Christie’s Eleven Lost Days”. Of course, in a lifetime of writing books and accompanying her second husband on his archaeological digs, the events of the breakdown of her first marriage are the only truly dramatic interlude so it is perhaps inevitable that this should be the focus of the playwright’s attention. Without giving too much away – heaven forbid that there should be spoilers – but Jaeger follows the theory put forward by Jared Carr in his book on the subject. It is one of several possible explanations of varying plausibility. As a solution to the mystery, it lacks the certainty of a Poirot denouement exposing the truth in the final scene, but it provides a very human and sympathetic interpretation which, at this distance in time, is perhaps all that a modern theatre-going audience can reasonably expect.