LIVE: “The Hollow” @ The Theater Barn, New Lebanon [GailSez]
I am on record as not being much of a fan of the murder mystery genre, but in a surprise twist this past spring I read both a biography of Agatha Christie (1890-1976), and her novel The Hollow (1946) on which the 1951 play of the same name is based. Since I usually see Christie plays with no foreknowledge of the plot, I was disappointed to learn that knowing the denouement ahead of time was a distinct disadvantage. (I know, I know. I hear your chorus of “Duh!”)
But I had rather hoped that having read the novel would allow me to observe and appreciate Dame Agatha’s skill in shifting the story from one art form to another. Instead, I found myself agreeing with Christie’s daughter, who objected to her mother’s decision to dramatize the book, and with Robert Barnard who wrote: “…most of the interest [in The Hollow], unusually, is internal, and difficult to present via Christie’s rather old-fashioned stage techniques.”
In its prose form The Hollow was an Hercule Poirot mystery, but Christie felt she had “ruined” the book by injecting Poirot, and replaced him with a Scotland Yard detective and a local police sergeant in the play. Unfortunately, either she or director Allen Phelps forgot to make them interesting characters.