When we first meet her, it’s tempting to dismiss Helen Rollander as a spoilt little rich girl who doesn’t have much between her ears.
But rest assured, this young woman knows exactly what she wants and exactly how to get it. The same can’t be said of the object of her affections, whose dithering nearly ends in the woman he secretly loves ending up in prison.
Why his young students, male and female, are so drawn to Professor Karl Hendryk (Richard Sails) remained a mystery to me. But this ageing academic has the magnetism usually reserved for rock stars in what is for me, the best Agatha Christie play I’ve seen to date.
It would be an understatement to describe act one as a bit of a slow burner and while the pace can never be described as electrifying, it improves considerably after the interval break.
This is also the first time I’ve actually cared about characters in a Christie play, but I did find myself sharing the emotional anguish of the Prof’s wheelchair using wife Anya - a outstanding Ros Greenwood - in act one.- and later for the plight of her niece Lisa Koletzky in act two. Maya Szlachetko is making her debut on the Garrick’s main stage and judging by the strength and conviction in her performance she’s sure to be asked to tread these well trodden boards again, many times.
Janet Slade, for me one of the Garrick’s finest characters, has much fun with Mrs Roper, the Hendryk’s shrill cockney housekeeper.
I have to say I’m not a fan of Christie’s usual offerings, crammed so often with vacuous, cardboard cut out characters. That said, Parissa Zamanpour’s has made me look watchable production has made me look at the queen of suspense in a different light.
Parissa has also worked as its designer, creating an effective and absorbing backdrop for a play that’s very close to bus pass age. Highly recommended.
Until September 10. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - ***