Agatha Christie's Spider's Web at TheatreFest | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

Agatha Christie's Spider's Web at TheatreFest 

Agatha Christie's Spider's Web, which was written as an original vehicle for the actress Margaret Lockwood during the final rehearsals for her better-known Witness for the Prosecution, combines drawing-room farce with drawing-room murder mystery. Even upon its initial production in 1954, critics found the play derivative of Christie's other works. Indeed, Christie herself seemed to realize this: One character in Spider's Web mentions Ten Little Indians.

As the third in N.C. State University's It's Murder! trilogy of Christie plays, Spider's Web is a light and slight piece of entertainment that offers a few laughs among the old-fashioned English murder.

The plot is standard Christie suspense: At a house in the English countryside, Clarissa (Dana Marks) entertains a number of friends (played by Fred Corlett, John Hall III and Joel Horton), an event that just happens to coincide with a threat to the custody of her husband's daughter Pippa (Betsy Newsome).

A murder that incorporates the drawing room's secret passage follows, and Clarissa's misunderstanding that Pippa is the killer leads to a series of farcical events involving the body's concealment, lies to the investigating inspector (Danny Norris) and attempts to figure out whodunit. The solution involves false identities, hidden messages, hidden treasure and terrible secrets, the likes of which will be familiar to anyone schooled in the fine tradition of rich English people with secrets.

Spider's Web doesn't have a lot of substance, though it does have style—the set is a lovely piece of old-school theatrical design by Nick Purdy, complete with the spring-loaded secret room in the bookcase (they don't make those like they used to). It's hard to describe the performances without giving away the plot twists, but Marks gets some laughs as Clarrisa and David Klionsky has a menacing presence as an unexpected visitor. Fans of more contemporary drama might find the play a bit slow, and the solution requires some spurious logic, but it's still a light, often entertaining farce. Little is unfamiliar in Spider's Web, but the tale it weaves should appeal to fans of old-school murder mystery.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater

Twitter Activity


I'm wondering why Dorfman specifically chose the Death and the Maiden quartet - deriving from the song Der Tod und …

by trishmapow on Forgiving is not forgetting in Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden (Theater)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

I'm wondering why Dorfman specifically chose the Death and the Maiden quartet - deriving from the song Der Tod und …

by trishmapow on Forgiving is not forgetting in Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden (Theater)

I'm not a theatergoer, so it was off my usual path to see this production. The small/ mighty cast approached …

by Aims Arches on A Superlative Adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando Packs Centuries of Insight into a Fleet Eighty Minutes (Theater)

I personally am remarkably intrigued to see this production but since I can't drive myself to it I will sadly …

by Ryan Oliveira on David Harrower Lives Up to His Name in Blackbird, a Challenging Portrait of Abuse (Theater)

I wholeheartedly agree with the position that there should be more structured, civic support for the thriving arts community in …

by ShellByars on Common Ground Closed. Sonorous Road Might Be Next. Is It Curtains for Small, Affordable Theaters in the Triangle? (Theater)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation