Review: Filling but unexciting take on Agatha Christie play

Richard Ackland as John Cristow, Karen Shayler as Gerda Cristow and Kim Hughes playing Veronica Craye. Picture: Mike Brooks

Richard Ackland as John Cristow, Karen Shayler as Gerda Cristow and Kim Hughes playing Veronica Craye. Picture: Mike Brooks

Nick Le Mesurier reviews The Hollow at the Priory Theatre, Kenilworth

Take a country house; add an in-bred family, mix in a dash of simmering resentment and a hint of sadism, garnish with alibis and a rich bouquet of motives, insert a sharp detective, and you have the basic ingredients of a Christie thriller.

Perhaps we arrived a little early, for the dish wasn’t cooked enough. One can’t fault the ingredients; they are what they are. And the preparation was to the letter.

Thus we were treated to a meal that was filling without being exciting. Partly this was due to first night nerves, which are forgivable. There were some good performances. Coralie Hammond was endearing as the dotty Lady Angkatell, matriarch of this mad family; and Colin Ritchie delivered a sterling performance as the dour Inspector Colquhoun. Dr John Cristow (Richard Ackland) is the victim, a man who treats everyone with contempt and surely deserves his fate. Kim Hughes as the vamp Veronica Hayes is as bubbly as a vat of acid.

The trick with a Christie recipe is to somehow leave a certain taste in the mouth, a sense that beneath the crust of civilisation people are bit off. And therein lay the problem; neither the fact of the victim’s death nor the motive of his killer, nor indeed those of any of the characters, carried enough kick.

For me there was a bit too much crust and not enough filling in this rather stodgy play.

* The Hollow runs until Saturday July 16. Call 0333 666 3366 to book.