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Laurel Mill Playhouse The Hollow

By • Feb 22nd, 2012 • Category: Reviews
The Hollow by Agatha Christie
Laurel Mill Playhouse
Laurel Mill Playhouse, Laurel, MD
Through February 26th
3:00 with two intermissions
$13/$10 Seniors, Students and Military
Reviewed February 18th, 2012

The Hollow is a murder mystery in three acts by Agatha Christie. The setting is the Angkatell Estate where a group of friends meet for a “get-a-way weekend” of relaxation, shooting practice, and as it turns out murder. When the police arrive, the layers are pulled back to reveal affairs, jealousy, pain, and confusion.

Unfortunately this production had some pacing issues that made it drag. That and the theater’s variable temperature (at times too warm, other times cool) made for a long evening. Most of the actors never really got into their characters enough to provide for empathy by the audience. The staging was also a bit stiff and there seemed to be a lot of standing in one place while delivering lines. The stage at Laurel Mill is somewhat compact, but adding a bit of movement would help make the action more interesting. The English accents ranged from believable to non-existent.

There were a few actors who did manage to bring their character to life. Maureen Rogers as the flighty and confused Lady Angkatell made her character fun and received the most laughs. Mainly because you were never sure what was going to come out of her mouth or where she was going to go next. Henrietta Angkatell, the sculptress, was played by Dana Medford. She showed realism in her character, although she never seemed quite at ease towards her secret lover, Dr. John Cristow played by Ed Higgins. Cristo also juggled his relationship with his wife Gerda, played as a pushover by Stephanie Shade. And Cristow’s former fiancee makes an appearance as a Holllywood starlet, Veronica Craye, played as a vamp by Sabrina Shahmir. Eric Henry was excellent as intrepid Inspector Colquhoun, offering a nice contrast to Gregory M. Mangiapane’s womanizing Detective Sergeant Penny.

As small as the space was, set designer Allen Trigg made good use of entrances and exits when designing a comfortable living room, although the doorway to Henrietta’s workroom was a bit unpolished. The costumes by Kim Delk were also very appropriate.

Regarding the murder itself, while there were quite a few tips and hints scattered throughout the play, don’t put yourself out trying to deduce who pulled the trigger. Laurel Mill Playhouse’s The Hollow is an Agatha Christie mystery to delight fans, but had some pacing problems that made it a long evening.

Director’s Notes

Do you trust me? That’s the question director Richard Atha-Nichols recently asked his cast for Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest. He had chosen to keep the end of the play a secret even from them until just a month before the show opened. As a member of that cast. I found it a fascinating approach, adding all sorts of layers to everyone’s initial approach to their characters. So I shamelessly borrowed his idea for this show, and only let this cast know the ending of The Hollow on January 7th.

Directing an Agatha Christie mystery is always a challenge. It takes a true team effort to properly present all the red herrings she plants through-out the story, as well as the true clues to the mystery, without telegraphing anything. At the same time, keeping in mind that a not insignificant portion of the audience is familiar with the story and is watching to see how well we present Dame Agatha’s misdirection, and finding ways to bring out all the humorous touches she sprinkles throughout her tales.

In 1950, Dame Agatha chose to freely adapt The Hollow from her 1946 novel of the same title. However, she deliberately chose to write out of the story the character of Hercule Poirot, as she felt that his appearance in the novel “ruined it.” After an eight week tryout tour, it opened in London on June 7, 1951 and had an initial professional run of 367 performances over the next eleven months. Hope you enjoy our production.

Cast

  • Henrietta Angkatell: Dana Medford
  • Sir Henry Angkatell: Tom Schneider
  • Lady Angkatell: Maureen Rogers
  • Midge Harvey: Jen Lechuga
  • Gudgeon: Bernie Noeller
  • Edward Angkatell: Grant Myers
  • Doris: Carleigh Jones
  • Gerda Cristow
  • Dr. John Cristow: Ed Higgins
  • Veronica Craye: Sabrina Shahmir
  • Inspector Colquhoun: Eric Henry
  • Detective Sergeant Penny: Gregory M. Mangiapane

Production Crew

  • Director: Mark T. Allen
  • Producer: Maureen Rogers
  • Stage Manager: Lori Bruun
  • Assistant to Stage Manager: Emily Bruun
  • Lighting Design: Allen Trigg
  • Sound Design: Richard Atha-Nichols
  • Light/Sound Operators: Emily Bruun, Lori Bruun
  • Set Design: Allen Trigg
  • Set Construction: Mark Allen and Eric Henry
  • Set Painting: Mark Allen, Ed Higgins, Jen Lechuga, Grant Myers, Tom Schneider, Stephanie Shade
  • Set Dressing: Diana Simmons, Allen Trigg
  • Properties: Lori Bruun, Diana Simmons & Cast
  • Costumer: Kim Delk
  • Hair and Make-Up: Cast
  • Head Shots: Brian Binney
  • Program: Stephanie Shade
  • Posters: Maureen Rogers
  • Website: John Cholod
  • Box Office & Reservations: Maureen Rogers and Volunteers
  • Concessions: Larry Simmons & Volunteers

Disclaimer: Laurel Mill Playhouse provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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