SPIDERS WEB at Princeton Summer Theater Spins Christie Mystery with Style
On a Friday afternoon last week, the cast of Princeton Summer Theater's SPIDER'S WEB ran through the show for a small audience. Director Luke Soucy stood at a desk and wrote notes as the actors hit their marks, punched up their British accents, and unraveled the web of murder and comedy that define Agatha Christie's 1954 play.
Even in a rehearsal room on the Princeton campus, with red and yellow spike tape on the floor mapping out stage at Hamilton Murray Theater where the show will open July 13th, the signs of what is most beloved of Agatha Christie were abundant. A card table sat stage right, the signs of an interrupted bridge game in evidence; a rotary phone, crystal lowball glasses and brandy to "calm the nerves", and a cast of characters any fan of Christie expects: an inspector, a society wife, a foreign service officer, and plenty of suspects hiding in plain sight.
While SPIDER'S WEB has the classic elements of any Christie plot, it does not have the iconic Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at the helm. It was written as a showcase for a popular British actress at the time, Margaret Lockwood in the role of Clarissa Hailsham-Brown, and ran on the West End at the height of her theatrical successes, along with THE MOUSETRAP and WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION.
Soucy, who keeps the pace quick and the suspense heavy, has done a nimble job with the complexities of the plot and tone, shifting gears elegantly when humor overrides the darkness of murder, as does Abby Melick in the role of Clarissa, wife of a diplomat and master of duplicity in her own right.
Why this particular Christie selection? In part, said, Soucy, who is also serving as artistic director for PST, because it's a bit of a hidden gem, less known than her other work. And it's part of an entire season of revisiting work from prior decades.
"This summer's season explores the interplay between the past and the present. The characters in each play demonstrate vastly different ways of dealing with their individual histories. All are made stronger through the struggle of facing this adversity. These wonderfully diverse works are reflective of the challenges posed to us today by a society divided over whether it is better to look to the past for inspiration or move in the direction of future progress."
Princeton residents who have taken a liking to the McCarter's recent productions of Christie will not be disappointed. This is a delightful, intimate piece, with the ebullient charm of an entertaining and mysterious dinner guest from the past.
Performances for Spider's Web run July 13-16 and July 20-23, with shows at 8pm Thursday through Saturday, and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Performances are at the Hamilton Murray Theater located on Princeton University's campus.
A talkback will occur after the evening performances on Friday, July 14th and July 21st with the director, cast and creative team.
Spider's Web, directed by C. Luke Soucy, will feature:
Chris Damen as Sir Rowland; Pablo Milla as Hugo/Oliver; Peter Giovine as Jeremy; Abby Melick as Clarissa; Meagan Raker as Pippa; Alex Vogelsang as Miss Peake; Lydia Watt as Elgin;Ross Barron as Inspector/Henry
Tickets are $29.50 for general admission, $24.50 for students and matinees. We also offer partial season subscriptions for only $65 (a 25% discount!), which ensures a reserved seat for three of our four main stage shows this season. Subscriptions are available until Sunday, July 23rd. To order tickets, visit http://www.princetonsummertheater.org/tickets or call the PST box office at 1-732- 997-0205.