Murder , Marple and Me- Gilded Balloon 3.15pm


 Anyone who knows me well will also know that I have a penchant for a Miss Marple murder mystery and especially on a Sunday afternoon. It is a throwback from the days when I went out on a Saturday night and used these leisurely paced dramas as some sort of hangover or recovery cure. There is also my fetish for tweeds and sensible shoes to be taken into consideration. Actually the latter is a lie but the rest is true.

So it was with a sense of familiarity- and secret guilty pleasure- that I made my way along to the Gilded Balloon this Sunday afternoon to see the one woman show starring Janet Prince alternating between three roles- Agatha Christie, Margaret Rutherford and a narrator who acts as a go-between and possibly Marple herself- and I am pleased to report I was not in any way disappointed. Prince gives a commanding performance and manages to use her well seasoned skills in shifting between character through nuance and expression never leaving you in any doubt as to which character she is playing at any time.

The story unfolds around the fact that Christie had serious reservations about Rutherford playing her amateur spinster sleuth on the big screen when the news first broke that the role had been cast. Rutherford, on the other hand, was equally reticent considering acting in films beneath an actress of her standing but unfortunately an extravagant lifestyle and avoidance of taxes had made taking the role a financial necessity.

What followed next was a summit meeting between the two very different women at very different stages in their careers. Against the odds the two became friends and Christie was able to penetrate the outward bluster of Rutherford to discover what made her tick as well as a deeply buried family secret which piqued her interest and, no doubt, made its way into one of her subsequent novels.

This production sympathetically directed by Stella Duffy is a perfect mid-afternoon show which is proving extremely popular with Fringe audiences- it was a sell out on the day I attended- and Prince’s performance (s) are alert and extremely convincing. There are moments of great wit combined with more serious observations. My Marple addiction on a Sunday afternoon was therefore thoroughly satisfied and will probably continue.


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