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Review of Agatha Christie's Spider's Web at Tolethorpe outdoor theatre





If you're a fan of the BBC's annual Agatha Christie adaptations, or the recent Kenneth Branagh films, you might want to reset your expectation of how the Queen of Crime can come across.

Spider's Web, written for the stage as a parody of Christie's usual detective thriller genre, brims with invisible ink, hidden doorways and secret drawer clich├ęs.

The version on stage at Rutland Open Air Theatre in Tolethorpe (until Saturday, August 13), and from August 22 to 27) is an amusing romp - not so much 'Whodunnit?' as 'How do we get away with it?'.

Tom Westall as Inspector Lord
Tom Westall as Inspector Lord

While the comedy is excessively clownish at times and some parts feel overacted, there are several laugh-out-loud moments.

Inspector Lord (Tom Westall) - more Clouseau than Poirot - has a lovely interaction with a floor-standing globe that reveals him to be an acrobat with impeccable comic timing, and his 'interrogation' of each of the suspects with Constable Jones lifts the level of humour a notch and picks up the pace in what does become a rather drawn-out story.

Natasha Rose portrays Clarissa Hailsham-Brown in the style of so many Christie lead characters - endearing for her verve, yet exasperatingly plummy - and Tom Johnson is the compelling dandy in spats, Jeremy Warrender.

Natasha Rose as Clarissa Hailsham-Brown
Natasha Rose as Clarissa Hailsham-Brown
Tom Johnson as Jeremy Warrender
Tom Johnson as Jeremy Warrender

Stand-out moments, though, are performed by the collective cast thanks to musical interludes that turn familiar pop songs into Jazz Age toe-tappers. When cast members line up, stage left, to the sound of a Michael Jackson dancefloor classic we are, for a second, in limbo, wondering 'Surely they won't?'. They do, and it's perfect.

The cast of Spiders Web
The cast of Spiders Web

Tickets for Agatha Christie's Spider's Web and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet are available now from Stamford Arts Centre in St Mary's Street, or online at www.stamfordshakespeare.co.uk

The season finishes on August 27.



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