Three female stars of stage and screen will bring to life, at York Theatre Royal this spring, the complex relationship between the world’s most famous crime writer, her best-known fictional creation and the actor who first brought the character to the screen.
In the early sixties two strong national treasures were the creative force behind one of British cinema’s most successful franchises, but the Miss Marple films were almost never made.
Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie didn’t want actor Margaret Rutherford to bring her fabled spinster to life and Margaret Rutherford was mortified at the prospects of sullying her reputation with something as sordid as murder.
Philip MeeksMurder, Margaret and Me is the story of the real reason why the acting legend and ‘the funniest woman alive’ didn’t want to take on the role that made her celebrated across the world.
Margaret and Agatha form an unlikely friendship filled with afternoon tea and gossip. Meanwhile Agatha turns detective herself as she becomes determined to unearth Rutherford’s tragic and shocking secret.
This premiere production will form part of a year-long programme of work put together by an all-female panel which aims to redress the imbalance in women’s roles in both theatrical work and the industry as a whole.
The productions, events and activities will run alongside York Theatre Royal’s spring and autumn 2017 seasons.
Nichola McAuliffe will play Agatha Christie, the world renowned Queen of Crime, whose 66 novels and 14 short story collections defined an era of thriller storytelling.
Nichola has won a number of awards, including the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical for Kiss Me Kate. She has prviously appeared in Blithe Spirit at York Theatre Royal. Nichola recently appeared on television in ITV’s lavish series, Victoria, as the Duchess of Cumberland.
Susie Blake takes on the role of Margaret Rutherford, the Oscar-and Golden Globe-winning actress whose childhood in India was overshadowed by sadness and tragedy.
Susie’s career on stage has seen her take roles ranging from Madam Morrible in Wicked in London’s West End to various Alan Ayckbourn productions at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre.
She is well-known for one of her early television roles as the sarcastic continuity announcer on Victoria Wood As Seen On TV in the 1980s, and also appeared Coronation Street from 2004 – 2006 as Bev, a role she briefly reprised in 2015 following the death of Anne Kirkbride who played Dierdre Barlow.
They are now joined by Andrina Carroll (replacing Indira Joshi), whose past work at York Theatre Royal includes Mother on The Railway Children, Brassed Off and A Midsummer Night Dream, who will play The Spinster, whose character narrates and leads the story, while bearing a certain resemblance to the legendary sleuth Miss Marple.
Murder, Margaret and Me will be directed by York Theatre Royal by artistic director Damian Cruden.
Damian Cruden said: “I’m delighted to be working with three such wonderful actors. They have great experience in theatre, film and television and I am delighted that they have chosen to come to York to share in the creation of a new piece of work.
“They are three very funny women and I’m looking forward to spending time with them in a room which I’m sure will be full of laughter and no doubt some anarchy, it’s good for the soul!
“It will then be a joy to share the result of our time spent in the rehearsal space with the people of York. The play is at heart a mystery worthy of Agatha herself, there’s plenty of surprises and a great deal of fun and laughs.
“I can’t wait to get started”.
Writer, Philip Meeks, added: “Margaret Rutherford and Agatha Christie were pioneers in a world where women creatives still constantly play second fiddle, especially those of a ‘certain age’.
“Yet due to their creative brilliance they found themselves in their sixties at the heart of the biggest franchise in the history of British cinema at that time.
“I’m thrilled that in Susie, Nichola and Andrina, the play is in the hands of a trio of equally powerful creative women. They are the perfect team to bring Damian’s vision for the production to life.”.
Murder, Margaret and Me runs at the York Theatre Royal from February 17 – March 4