“OH what a tangled web we weave/when first we practise to deceive,” wrote Sir Walter Scott, providing the apt title for this unusual comedy-mystery by the Queen of Crime.
A slow play to wind-up before its plot inexorably unravels, “Spider’s Web”, was not hugely popular when it first opened in 1954, but it is in my view one of her most effective stage plays, in which provides veteran Christie producers Tempo Theatre with a swag of juicy characters to play.
First among these is the protagonist, the attractive young Clarissa, newly married to an older man and fond of telling tall takes, until real life intrudes. This is a plum role for Tempo veteran Sarah Bourke, who carries it off with understated charm and a sense of mischief that drew laughter from the audience.
Other choice roles include the snobby but kind-hearted Sir Rowland Delahaye, (Kim Wilson), the disturbed schoolgirl Pippa (Kate Walker), the fake gardener Mildred, (Marian Fitzgerald) the shady butler Elgin, (Tony Cheshire) the smooth but gullible Inspector (Shane Horsburgh) — the list goes on, wonderful parts for any community theatre group.
The actors are moved along at a cracking pace by director Elphick, so that the surprise revelation of whodunit came as quite a shock. Although staged on a shoestring, the attractive set conjured up the necessary country manor most effectively.
Tempo Theatre has garnered quite a following for its Christie presentations, and this production cements its position as the foremost local exponent of the genre.
The company’s daring decision to tour for three nights to the Arts Centre in Cootamundra should be rewarded with good houses.