Theatre Royal Concert Hall Nottingham – until Saturday 6th August 2022
Reviewed by Amarjeet Singh
Spider’s Web is written by the queen of thrills, Agatha Christie. The play opened at the Theatre Royal Nottingham in 1954 and is Christie’s second most successful play. You can imagine the anticipation and excitement I felt sitting in the Theatre Royal 68 years later, listening to songs from the 50s, waiting for curtain up. The production did not disappoint.
Spider’s Web is set in 1953, in Copperstone Court, which is the newly acquired home of the Hailsham-Browns. Henry is a Foreign Office diplomat and, while he is busy working, his second wife Clarissa occupies her time making up scenarios in her head, to add some excitement in to her life, and takes care of her exceedingly hungry stepdaughter Pippa. In one of those scenarios, she imagines what she would do if she were to find a body in the house. Unfortunately, after an eventful day the scenario comes true. Clarissa has to call on those closest to her to unravel the truth and protect those she loves before they all succumb to danger, or she gets blamed for the murder.
A beautiful set, focussing on the main drawing room and patio of Copperstone Court, and simple lighting and sound effects were all that was needed to aid the story driven play. The cast as a whole come together to bring this wonderful play to life, each player, line and movement perfect, but I feel compelled to mention 2 stand outs.
Lara Lemon is sublime as Clarissa. Charming and endearing, she effortlessly glides from scene to scene, engaging subtle changes and never succumbing to one note hysteria. Its hard for me to explain her coquettish manner and understated flirtatious, alluring, grace, giving us 50s realness and breathing life into the strong, smart feminine protagonist.
Susan Earnshaw is a joy to behold as the eccentric and enigmatic gardener, Mildred Peake. Mysterious and hilarious in equal measure, her humour was on point and had the audience laughing out loud. It was quite obvious she relished the role.
Spider’s Web shows that Agatha Christie can do comedy as well as drama, there were some truly hilarious moments. The plot is intricate and, in this play, particularly unfathomable, but we are here to be entertained and not fully detect. ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!’ Come be a fly on the wall with me and catch this astounding play before it’s too late.