The great detective storyteller Agatha Christie has disappeared, leaving a car, a fur coat and one shoe behind, and as soon as the audience enters the room they are tasked with helping the detective, Miss Clarissa Marbles, solve the mystery. No-one is leaving this performance of Agatha Is Missing! until the truth has been uncovered. Marbles, played by American actress Prudence Wright Holmes, is obviously modeled on Christie’s own Miss Marple, and her rather dull and dowdy 1930’s garb is well in keeping with the period, as are Holmes’ mannerisms and school ma’am English accent.
Holmes describes Christie’s disappearance, sequentially reeling off all of the suspects, from Christie’s husband and sister to the town chemist Miss Pecksmith and even the domestic cook. Accusing various audience members in turn, Holmes questions them on their nefarious deeds and drags various suspects on stage. Some are better (and more willing!) actors than others, but Holmes adlibs well, and as the clues start to mount, it becomes clear that there are multiple explanations for Agatha’s disappearance, as a bloodied weapon and a bottle of poison appear from dark corners. Holmes commands the proceedings and is convincing as the shrewd amateur sleuth. Audience participation continues as everyone has to write down their own theory, before there is a grand denouement and a winner is announced. No spoilers given!
Although the routine is fairly amusing and well-acted, it starts to pall after a while, and a little more variation would help to sustain momentum. It’s also unclear why three renditions of God save the King are necessary. Nevertheless, the initial concept of the show is a good one and the audience obviously enjoy being amateur detectives.