A UNIQUE blend of suspense and humour come together at the Old Mill Theatre this March in an Agatha Christie play parodying the detective thriller genre.
Directed by Donna Foote and June Richardson, Spider’s Web delivers tension and laughter in equal parts with an intricate plot of murder, police, drug addicts, invisible ink, hidden doorways and secret drawers.
Clarissa, a diplomat’s wife, is adept at spinning tales of adventure – but when a murder takes place in her drawing room she finds it much harder to cope with real-life drama.
Desperate to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests until they are interrupted by a detective.
Spider’s Web was Agatha Christie’s second most successful play, after The Mousetrap.
“It appears at first to be the typical detective thriller play she was well-known for but it’s also a play with comedy,” Donna said. “It’s the only time she incorporated both.
“Comedy is not any easy genre to direct – the adage ‘timing is everything’ absolutely applies to this play.
“The characters are given funny lines but, in delivering those lines or performing sight gags, they have to be timed perfectly or it all falls flat.
“Then there’s the other side of the play, dealing with murders and murderers, and we have to make it all work together.”
Both directors have known each other for 50 years, after originally going to school together.
Donna was previously the State Manager of Musica Viva and has directed with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of WA three times over the past 30 years.
Each time, the show was I’ve Got A Little List, co-written with her musical director husband Andrew.
June was previously a professional stage actor in the UK during the 1980s.
“June and I were originally looking for a comedy play to direct at the Old Mill Theatre,” Donna said.
“But when we came across this Agatha Christie comedy thriller, it was too good to resist.
“It has the tension of a whodunit alongside some humorous characters.”
Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web plays 7.30pm March 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 with 2pm matinees March 15 and 22. Tickets are $25, $20 concession – book at www.trybooking.com/BHLEV.
The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth (opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post).
spider1: Jennifer McGrath plays the main role of Clarissa in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web.
spider2: The grim reaper haunts Clarissa (Jennifer McGrath) in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web.
spider-kaylin: Kaylin Cutfield plays Pippa Hailsham-Brown, the teenage stepdaughter of Clarissa.
spider-ali: Miss Peake (Ali Kish) is a hearty country woman who is also a gardener.
Old Mill Theatre
South Perth's Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to be operating out of one of the most historic buildings in South Perth. It was opened in 1899 as a Mechanics' Institute Hall. The South Perth Council purchased the building in 1913 and renamed it the Mends Street Hall. The council still owns the building, and supports our use of it.
The building first became a home of theatre in 1948, when the South Perth Dramatic Society moved in. The name Old Mill Theatre was first used in 1958, and the company was incorporated in 1959. In 2009, the theatre celebrated its 60th anniversary.
A number of significant changes to the building have occurred over the past few years, with major extensions completed in 2002. An understage tunnel, which links two backstage dressing rooms and enables easier access from one side of the stage to the other, was completed in 2008. Bathroom facilities have also been installed backstage as part of this project, which was wholly self-funded.
The Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to have strong support from its local council, the City of South Perth. The city undertook major renovations to the exterior of the building in 2008 and the theatre is looking better now than ever before.
P: 0431 947 872