By Mark Squibb/May 5, 2022
A number of guests weekending at the Angkatell’s country manor, among them a doctor, his wife, his mistress and his former lover, find their weekend frivolities interrupted by murder. Each and every person has secrets, everyone is a suspect, and only a cunning detective can bring the murderer to justice— before they strike again.
Such is the plot of Agatha Christie’s The Hollow, first published as a novel featuring her famous Belgium sleuth Hercule Poirot in 1946 and later adapted for the stage by Christie herself in 1951.
CBS Theatre is bringing the story to the stage this June, the company’s second production after last year’s radio-on-stage version of It’s a Wonderful Life.
“I relished the idea of being in the director’s role for this show,” said Susan Bonnell. “I think what I love the most about Agatha Christie, and this play, is that she writes really strong, well rounded, interesting women.”
One such character, said Bonnell, is Lady Lucy Angkatell, whose quirky personality promises to keep audiences entertained.
Christie, who has often been called the world’s best-selling author, wrote 66 mystery novels (plus six romance novels written under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott), numerous short stories, theatrical productions, and non-fiction works. Her work continues to be adapted for stage and film and television and radio to this day, while other writers have taken a stab at carrying on the literary adventures of both Hercule Poirot and Miss. Marple.
“I think everybody likes a good ‘whodunit,’ and I think Agatha delivers beautifully,” said Bonnell. “As soon as the crime happens in almost all of her stories, you go, ‘Oh! I know who did it!’ But as it unravels, you become less and less sure of your convictions, until the final reveal. And that’s one of the things that people really love about her writing — it’s very difficult for you to predict the killer in an Agatha Christie story. And the audience that come to see The Hollow are going to find that as well.”
For the stage version of The Hollow, Christie dropped Poirot, a character that she often publicly ridiculed, despite the fame he brought her (“One thing I found out doing my research for The Hollow is that she didn’t actually like Poirot all that much,” joked Bonnell,) and replaced him with another detective, one Inspector Colquhoun.
Along with the inspector, audiences are invited to solve the crime — if their little grey cells are up for the task, of course.
“During the intermission, audiences will have the opportunity to guess and maybe win a prize, based on their ability to figure out who the murderer is,” said Bonnell.
While folks may have enjoyed Christie from the comfort of their homes during the pandemic, it’s likely been about two years since they have attended a Christie stage production — or any stage production for that matter.
Attending a play is a community experience not possible during the pandemic.
“Community theatre is really about community,” said Bonnell. “It’s about the opportunity to come together around a shared experience, and our mission at Theatre CBS is not just theatre, it’s community. The people who are performing in the show, all the crew who are helping us bring the show to life are all individuals from Conception Bay South and the neighbouring municipalities. They’re your next-door neighbours. Some of them have lots and lots of experience in community theatre, and some of have little to none experience. So, it’s an opportunity for the community to support this artistic endeavour of people from the community.”
The production is coming to All Saints Parish Hall in Conception Bay South, June 2-4, and tickets can be purchased at www.theatrecbs.com. If you would like to get involved with the group, either on the stage or behind the scenes, Bonnell is encouraging people to get in touch.