Fans of Agatha Christie murder mysteries may not have seen the hidden gem coming up at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, so Christie’s THE HOLLOW, a lesser known but cleverly crafted thriller, will give audiences a seemingly brand new offering from the long heralded queen of mystery. The production opens Friday, March 13, and runs through Sunday, March 29.
Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, with sales of her novels reaching more than two billion. In the 1930s, she began adapting her stories for the stage and became a record-breaking playwright. The London production of THE MOUSETRAP is the longest continuously running play in history, now in its 68th year. THE HOLLOW is based on her 1946 book of the same name and was first produced on stage in 1951.
As the story goes, a weekend gathering goes deathly awry as an unhappy game of romantic follow-the-leader explodes into murder at The Hollow, the English country home of Sir Henry and Lucy Angkatell just outside of London.
John Cristow is at the center of the trouble when, assembled in one place, we find his dull but devoted wife Gerda, his mistress Henrietta, and his former lover and film star Veronica, all of whom have smoldering desires for him. As the list of romantic associations grows, so does the list of potential suspects when someone is suddenly murdered. Nearly everyone has a motive but only one of them did the deed.
The critical reception of THE HOLLOW, while readily branding it a crowd-pleaser, suggests it is particularly rich in character development. We have genial host Sir Henry (played by Tim Newland) and his eccentric wife Lucy (Deb Meeks), arguably Christie’s finest comic grande dame.
Visiting are several cousins from different sides of the Angkatell family. Reserved Edward (Corey Simpson), the rich owner of the family estate where they frolicked in their youth, is in love with Henrietta (Annie Collins), a cool and confident sculptor whose affections lie elsewhere. Midge (Tia Strickland), a less affluent and often overlooked cousin who has to work for a living, doesn’t even see the point of confessing her love for Edward.
Increasing the tension are Dr. Cristow (Jason Russell), a successful but somewhat misanthropic doctor, and his socially awkward wife Gerda (Lindsey Wills), who everyone thinks of as dimwitted. A new neighbor turns out to be a glamorous movie star, Veronica (Johanna Fredrickson), who has a history with John.
It is the charming Inspector Colquhoun (Dana Rogers) and his down-to-earth assistant Sergeant Penny (Christian Smith) who must try to follow Christie’s well-crafted twists and turns to unmask the killer. Also hanging around in case we need any more suspects are the officious butler Gudgeon (Patrick Sweetman) and housemaid Doris (Haylee Meyer).
The cast of 12 veterans and newcomers to the CTC stage is under the helm of guest director Bob Willie. Rodney Strong is the stage manager, and Brittany Rogers is the assistant stage manager.
Performances are March 13-14 at 8 p.m., March 15 at 2:30 p.m., March 19 at 7 p.m., March 20-21 at 8 p.m., March 22 at 2:30 p.m., March 26 at 7 p.m., March 27-28 at 8 p.m., and March 29 at 2:30 p.m. Live captioning for those with hearing loss will be available March 19.
For tickets, call the CTC box office at 423-267-8534 or visit TheatreCentre.com.
Posted February 26, 2020