Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary at the Royal & Derngate Review

SecretAdversaryAgatha Christie’s
The Secret Adversary
Royal & Derngate, Northampton

24-26 March 2015


Reviewed by Deb Narciso

The Royal & Derngate is favourite venue for me as it is easy to park and it is housed in a clean modern building which is purpose built as a theatre venue. It has two theatres, the modern multipurpose and fully adaptable Derngate and the old traditional Victorian playhouse The Royal.

This production was in The Royal and we had comfortable seats mid row in the stalls. There is a full bar available and you are able to take in your drink providing it is in a non breakable glass. The staff at this venue are always polite and friendly, and tonight was no exception.

Although I am familiar with some of Agatha Christie’s work this was my first experience of Tommy and Tuppence and The Secret Adversary. Adapting any Christie novel for the stage, due to the twists and turns and range of characters, always presents a challenge. To do so for the small stage at The Watermill and then to take it on tour is admirable. This adaptation by Sarah Punshon and Johann Hari is really well thought through and keeps all the red herrings and intrigue of Christies novel with only ‘7 actors’ as the cast reminded us!

Set in the 1920’s in post war London there are nods to the economic temperature of the time with the plot directly linked to the forthcoming General strike. The lead characters are young and enthusiastic but unemployed so they decided to do something about it and become adventurers! This leads them in to solving a mystery with a slightly implausible plot.

Photos by Phillip Tull

The play uses actor musicians interspersing the plot with short songs, dances and snippets of music which run through the play holding it together and providing change of atmosphere. The play also has lots of humour in it and I found myself smiling and chuckling as the cast delivered one liners and asides to the audience.

The set was cleverly designed to enable a small cast on a small stage to maximise the space available. There are several chase scenes in the play which due to the doors and trapdoors made convincing watching.

I cannot single out a single cast member for praise as they were a magnificent team and worked extremely well together. However Morgan Philpott sprinkling a few magic tricks through the play certainly added another dimension!

This is a lovely theatre piece and with this standard of production it is easy to see how the Watermill has gained such an excellent reputation for producing quality theatre. Well done to the cast and crew for an excellent job.

I would thoroughly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

Tickets cost from £17.50 to £28.50 (plus £2.80 transaction fee)

Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton until 26 March 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811


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