Its here! The Royal Manitoba Theatre’s Master Playwright Festival has arrived. Agatha Christie fans have two glorious weeks (Feb. 8-26) to partake in ChristieFest. It’s like the Fringe only with snow.
Outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, aka the Queen of Mystery, is the top selling novelist of all time with more than a billion of her books sold. She is best known for her 66 detective novels, 150 short stories and 19 plays.
Agatha Christie’s enduring popularity is due in part because people love puzzles. Her quest for why and how and who do more than entertain; she challenges us to use all our senses to engage our brains. Happy is the reader or theatre patron who solves the case before the end.
The Hunting Party at PTE’s Colin Jackson Theatre on Feb. 8, 2017 was the perfect launch into the enigma of the woman who was a mystery herself.
As Agatha Christie says, “When solving a mystery one has to examine the possibilities and the probabilities.”
Agatha’s world was shattered in 1926 when her husband, Archie, announced he was leaving her for another woman thus ending the possibility of happily ever after.
For eleven days the entire world searched for clues as to her whereabouts in a media frenzy of speculation. All that is known is that she registered at a Yorkshire hotel under the name of Archie’s mistress and that she claims a memory blackout of the entire time.
With the Hunting Game, writer Marc A. Moir has set the stage for one possible scenario that befell Mrs. Christie during her disappearance. His play is “a tribute to her work and her bravery as an artist and as a woman.” The probability is that audiences are going to love this production.
For this reviewer, the most powerful moment of the evening was when Director Marc Moir paid tribute to actor Jon Ted Wynne. After years of serious illness Wynne has returned to the stage and was magnificent in his leading role as Inspector Thomas Bindlestaff. He was so believable I was ready to confess.
The cast of Winnipeg luminaries includes former CBC radio host Ron Robinson as the daffy Colonel, Harry Nelken as the crotitchy butler, radio personality Garry Moir as the Inspector’s sidekick and, retired CBC host Agatha Moir as a maid.
The repartee, the one line zingers, and the humour combined to showcase the actors at their best.
John Bluethner as the good doctor, Shannon Loewen as the personal assistant to Shane Hartry’s Sir Arthur Ash worked well together.
Scot Moir’s Mr. Angier and Marc Moir’s Mr. Ashenden along with Kathleen Moir as Elsie the overworked housekeeper were well cast to complement the middle of the night surprise visitor, mystery writer Agatha Christie portrayed by Rhiannon Benedict.
The nice thing about the venue is that it is adjacent to PTE’s snack bar, lounge and warm underground parking.
For more info on ChristieFest visit http://www.royalmtc.ca/MPF