Cast & Crew
SYDNEY LIVE : Telegraph review by Jennie Jones |
Try picking a Christie murderer
This classic who-dunnit isn't easy to crack. Set in an English country house in the 1930s, The Hollow by Agatha Christie features a couple's weekend party.
Guests include eight family members, some of whom are caught in a messy love triangle. Tensions build when an American actress/ neighbour gatecrashes. After a guest is murdered, each character is assessed by two detectives.
Audience confusion doesn't take long to kick in. Picking the culprit is rather like gambling on a horse - you can theorise for hours, but the odds don't always match the result.
Standout actors include Amelia Longhurst (who plays Henrietta Angkatell) and Denny Kopacka (Gerda Cristow).
Collingwood Ave and lIuka St, Manly. Until Saturday, 7.30pm, $23-$28,9439 1906 or factoryspace.org
Review from Sydney Stage online by Brad Skye
The Hollow is a conventional play. That fact alone might well stick in the craw of some critics and punters, but, to one somewhat jaded by pseudo-intellectual, ineffectual, unintelligible fringe (which isn't to dismiss the worthy wealth of it which indubitably exists outside that), it can provide refreshment and relief.
It's also gratifying to be reminded how relevant and topical a play so far out of its time can still prove. A clear case of the more things change, the more they stay the same, perhaps. I probably haven't enjoyed the enviable craft of Agatha Christie since highschool, so it's rewarding, as well, to (re)discover just how good a writer she was and is.
First and foremost, Christie is an unapproachably outstanding storyteller; indeed, the benchmark by which all other 'mystery murderesses' are measured, I should think. Beyond that, she displays considerable wit, without flaunting it.
Factory Space has a solid and long history of staging a broad range of productions 'par voie de mer', at Star of the Sea, Manly. Under the dedicated, expert tutlelage of (artistic) director, Roz Riley, FSpace founder, a talented, well-chosen cast do a fine job of realising the author's own adaptation of her 1945 novel, with its richly eccentric, largely upper-crust characters.
In a way, guessing which of the players harbours an 'arterial motive' is a mere distraction from luxuriating in 'Aunt' Agatha's pricelessly penetrating windows into the vacuous twittery of the landed gentry, as well as the streetwise savvy of the serving class. In that sense, at least, The Hollow is as much satire as suspense. She's a social anthropologist, as well as dramatist.
Riley's command of her actors is so much a given that, like an unobtrusive waiter, her very considerable contributions barely even need acknowledgment. Likewise, Tania Kraus' stage management (save for a final fade not quite on cue) and Hecate's design. Sound design was a little more questionable, with musical interludes that were, if anything, distracting; while interesting in their own right. Elise McCann attired all in quite divine threads, with an original stamp.
The actors are almost too numerous to do justice to all, in a short review, but radio and television veteran, Barry Eaton, proved justly popular as all-seeing, all-knowing butler, Gudgeon. Few would know his professional life began with training at the Independent; with nothing forgotten, it appears, as he played the role to its driest comical extremity, without lapsing into outright stereotype.
Bronwen Gault was suitably pneumatic as film-star, Veronica Craye; Denny Kopacka, as Gerda Cristow, was as persuasively pathetic as her character suggested she should be. Dan McCallum, as the timid Edward Angkatell, was, for a relative novice, impressively finessed, especially in terms of vocal characterisation, but has a thing or two to learn about physicality. His style is more filmic than theatrical.
Alan Popeley (Sir Henry) and Kath Perry really hit the mark, with the latter, especially, clearly relishing every eccentricity, of which Lady Angkatell has many! Belinda Marques was very good as Midge Harvey; likewise, Ben Maclaine as John Cristow. The 'woman of the match' was Amelia Longhurst, putting across a particularly compelling perf as Henrietta Angkatell.
The only stumbling-block, for mine, was a somewhat self-conscious performance, by Sylvia Allewelt, as Inspector Colquhoun. Her offsider, Detective Sergeant Penny, was masterfully & engagingly portrayed by Adam Salter, who also gets an opportunity to showcase his very considerable singing skills. His playful interaction with Marisa Newnes' flirtatious housemaid, Doris, adds a good deal of warmth and humour, in its almost choreographed expression.
The Hollow, is a good, satisfying (in the way that there's no substitute for, say, a well-executed Sunday roast, no matter how cosmopolitan we might get, or pretend to be), if longish night of theatre. The best of it is, I doubt you'll really notice the running-time, as you'll, most likely, be utterly absorbed by this archetypal 'whodunnit', which, for all its acerbic wit, never sacrifices empathy for all the foibles in the rich weave of the human fabric.
Factory Space presents The Hollow by Agatha Christie
Venue: Star of the Sea Theatre, corner Collingwood St and Iluka Avenue, Manly Dates/Times: Opens Thursday 2 November.
|The Hollow - photography by John Reeves|
Manly Daily article: Bronwen puts fatale into the femme |
The idea of playing a glamorous Hollywood actress who is suspected of murder was tantalising for Dee Why's Bronwen Gault. She speaks to ROD BENNETT about her part in an Agatha Christie play
Dee Why actress Bronwen Gault said . playing a larger-than-life 1950s Hollywood starlet was a little different from the sort of person she was in reality. "My director is always telling me to 'be harder' and that I'm 'too nice'," she said.
She is playing the role of "famous" actress Veronica Craye in the Factory Space productionof Agatha Christie's The Hollow, at Star ofthe Sea Theatre. The Hollywood femme fatale turns up at small English village and her arrival causes a stir. The locals wonder why such a well-known actress has come to their town, and try to catch a glimpse of her. She arrives in the evening to go and see her former partner, the charismatic and egotistical doctor, John Cristow. He is found dead the next morning. It's the first time Gault has acted in an Agatha Christie play.
She took the role because of the challenge it presented and because it seemed like a lot off un. "Last week I was rehearsing, trying to develop the relationship between Veronica and John," she said. "My character has to change and becoming frightening. I have to find the depth in her that gets her to the point where she could kill someone. "That's difficult and to do it with an accent is a challenge."
This is not to say Veronica Craye is a murderess. But she might be. "She is a suspect," Gault said. "Every character is a suspect - each has an agenda." Gault has been a member of Factory Space for three years. She may seem familiar to Australian small-screen devotees, having been cast in shows like Blue Heelers, The Chaser, and Home & Away (for five years as nurse Linda Ryan).
"Ever since I was a child I've loved acting," she said. "It's my passion." Gault is not from the northern beaches, she moved to Dee Why from the Eastern Suburbs about two years ago: "I love Dee Why and I'm not going back. "Playing Veronica Craye is something of a fantasy role for me ... all the glamour of a 1950s Hollywood star," she said. "She is completely over the top. "We have some fantastic actors in this play. Most of them are well-known and are on Australian stages and screens." The Hollow is at the Star of the Sea Theatre, cnr Collingwood St and Iluka Ave, Manly. Season is Thursdays-Saturdays, November 2-18 (matinees also available). Tickets $28/$23. Bookings 9439 1906.