Agatha Christie‘s whodunit The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side is particularly beloved as it leaves you guessing unsuccessfully till the end. The novel has been adapted for the stage by British writer Rachel Wagstaff and reimagined for the Indian audience by writer Ayeesha Menon. Here are four reasons why everyone, not just Christie fans, should watch it.
A collaboration between British production companies Wales Millennium Centre and Wiltshire Creative Production, the play is an NCPA production and is being staged at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre at 7.30 pm until Sunday, February 9.
Christie’s story is relocated to Goa
Ayeesha Menon, who has reimagined the play for the Indian audience, has moved the setting of the story from the small town of St Mary Mead to a sleepy town in Goa in the 1970s. Allusions to hippies, nudist beaches and tourists are sprinkled throughout the play. The elderly Jiloo Mistry (Shernaz Patel), the Indian Miss Marple, is confined to her home because of a broken leg. Her dear friend Superintendent Daniel D’mello (Denzil Smith), drops in to seek her counsel over the murder of local woman Hilda Lobo (Gillian Pinto) at Bollywood star Mamta Basu’s (Sonali Kulkarni) party. Suspects and motives are aplenty.
Masterful direction by Melly Still
Christie readers will find that while the play is mostly faithful to the book, it has a few new dimensions. Renowned British director Melly Still inventively tells the story. For instance, Daniel and Jiloo question witnesses. Their accounts are played out by the actors assembled in formation. When the witnesses reminisces, the actors shuffle in a way that mimics the rewind action on video. When the narrative leaps to the present, their movements mimic the fast forward action. The device makes it easy to picture how the scene may have taken place. Still extracts restrained and strong performances from her cast, worthy of the standing ovation the audience bestows upon them.
Top-notch performances by a cracker cast
Shernaz Patel playing the Indian Miss Marple is in brilliant form. Her Miss Mistry is crafty, vulnerable, empathetic and feisty. A mere broken leg is no hurdle when justice must be served. Sonali Kulkarni’s Mamta Basu, on the other hand, is beautiful, rich, successful and used to being fawned over. But her cheery demeanour hides deep, smarting wounds. Kulkarni plays her with complexity, conveying the many shades of her character, from manipulation to vulnerable. The supporting cast comprising Avantika Akerkar playing Jiloo’s best friend Dolly Braganza, Bhavana Pani as actor Leela Gopalan, Suhaas Ahuja as Mamata’s personal assistant Gurmeet Ranjha, Zinnia Ranji as Jiloo’s caretaker Chikki Prasad and Denzil Smith also make a solid impact.
Light design creates the right atmosphere
Lights are used smartly to transform spaces. For instance, Miss Mistry’s cosy home becomes Mamta’s palatial abode with lighting manoeuvres and minimal set changes. Shadows are cast to suggest suspicion or to show suspicious behaviour such as eavesdropping.