Director: Sarah Punshon
Writer: Agatha Christie
Reviewer: Natasha Hegarty
In celebration of Agatha Christie’s 125th anniversary, The Secret Adversary is embarking on a UK tour. The story was Christie’s second work, published in 1922 and the first of five stories featuring the adventures of Tuppence and Tommy. Adapted by Johann Hari and Sarah Punshon, this adaptation is a successful mystery, which leaves you guessing until the end.
It is set in Post World War II London when the threat of a revolution is hanging over the heads of Britain. The two main characters meet after a time, both broke and unemployed and ready to embark on a business scheme to make some money. By way of a mistake the protagonists are on a hunt to find the illusive Jane Fish, an American woman who has some important papers that threaten the future of Britain.What follows is hidden identities, double crossing characters and some delightful magic tricks. The use of a projector to tell the story of how Jane Fish came to be of importance has the audience laughing and is a very different way of telling the story. A lovely touch.
Emerald O’Hanraham as Tuppence and Morgan Philpott as Tommy don’t miss a beat. They work well together and also shine individually. One of the funniest scenes involves Philpott’s Tommy attempting to escape while tied up. There is a big scope for the piece going horribly wrong, but it is performed perfectly, thanks to choreographer Lucy Cullingford’s direction. There are odd moments toward the end where the chemistry dips between the two leads, but for the most part, they are solid performances.
The supporting cast are brilliant and throw so much energy into their performances, some playing multiple characters or doubling as musicians. Sophie Scott as Annette is a standout performer of the production, slipping easily in and out of her characters and is also a talented musician.
At times the comedy does border on slapstick as though the cast are trying too hard and it gets slightly uncomfortable. These moments are fleeting however and don’t really change the overall feel of the performance.
Tom Roger’s set design can’t be faulted. Several doors, including a secret trap door allow the cast quick escapes and fun chases. The set easily switches from dark and dingy alleyways to the red-carpeted Ritz hotel, with the actors helping it along by moving the props on and off stage themselves.
Sarah Punshon and Johann Hari have taken a plot which involves very political overtones including plotting trades-unionists, secretive Russians, Irish Republicans and Suffragettes, and turn it into a fun show, with a lovely magical element.
With all the running around in and out of doors and cast moving from one character to another, it is a little hard at times to follow who was who at times. However, overall The Secret Adversary is a brilliant show not just for fans of Agatha Christie, but also for those who have never picked up one of her books.
Runs until 26th March and on tour.