Must-See Fringe Festival Presents NYC Award Winner
By Michael Gottlieb, photo by Steve Ullathorne
Knit one, bash two. Genteel ladies involved with violent murder make a fine theme for drama, including one sold-out hit of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. Janet Prince, a regular face on British television and London in theater, gives a bravura solo performance in the polished, witty production, Murder, Margaret and Me, presented by Fringe San Miguel and Players Workshop.
Murder, Margaret and Me
Wed, Feb 25, and Thu Feb 26, 7:30pm
Wed, Mar 4 – Sat, Mar 7, 7:30pm
Sun, Mar 8, 5pm
San Miguel Playhouse
Playwright Philip Meeks has humorously imagined a triple-threat encounter in which brash, comedic British actress Margaret Rutherford meets prolific mystery writer Agatha Christie on the set of the first Miss Marple film, with both women initially reluctant to have Rutherford portray Christie’s elderly female detective of literary fame. Meanwhile, that innocent-looking citizen-detective is present onstage too, calmly knitting in a cozy corner while narrating some of the events that might have transpired.
Prince energetically presents a delightful trio of personas, spinning adeptly through mercurial character changes. She makes subtle adjustments for each personality, switching from Miss Marple’s genteel but intense demeanor and sweetly sly smile to an assured, aristocratic bearing for Christie. As primary narrator, Prince’s Rutherford bounds vigorously around the set, wrapped in an air of bravado that conceals a mysterious inner vulnerability. Whether Christie can learn the secret that Rutherford hides is the crux of the play.
As any Agatha Christie fan knows, the casting of comic actress Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple in the light-hearted George Pollock MGM series was widely reported by Mrs. Christie to be a grievous mistake. So unhappy was she with the whole situation, and in order to protect the reputation of her precious creation, she made frequent visits to the set to check on proceedings. This play, set in Rutherford’s dressing room on location of the first film Murder She Said, centers around the ever-present Mrs. Christie and the rather more interesting story of Rutherford’s real life.
In one hour we touch on mental illness, childhood trauma, murder and suicide, as well as Rutherford’s rather interesting relationships with those close to her.
One reviewer said Janet Prince offers a master class in acting with this performance and NY Theater Now wrote, “Prince inhabits these equally strong but very different women with relish, showcasing Rutherford’s boundless energy, Marple’s shy humor, and Christie’s sharp, refined intelligence… thoroughly enjoyable.”
Murder, Margaret and Me plays at the beautiful new San Miguel Playhouse. Advanced tickets available at BajíoGo, Jesus 11, or online at www.fringesanmiguel.com/eng/tickets.