Who doesn’t love the fun of trying to solve a good mystery? The Hollow is the latest show running at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Written by Agatha Christie in the 50s, this production has been set into the 30s – an era known for it’s myseries and noire films. The only question more pressing than who did the deed is —
Should you see it?
The rumours were true. There are an awful lot of guns in that house.
The Hollow is an Agatha Christie murder mystery which means it has an uncomplicated formula. A group of folk get together for some reason, we spend some time learning who they are and where they fit together, one of them is killed, and there’s an investigation to find out who did the deed. In this case, the gathering takes place at the home of Sir Henry and Lady Angkatell. Enter a few more Angkatells, a pair of Cristows, and a Hollywood starlet from down the road to give you a large group that will be at least one fewer by the end of the night. Killed by one of their own, or the butler, or the maid.
The fun thing about mysteries is the intermission buzz. You can’t move through the crowds or even stay in your seat without hearing group after group run through the list of suspects. Who could it be? That’s why Agatha Christie is a regular staple at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Instant engagement.
Adding to the intrigue of The Hollow is the immense love web going on. Midge is in love with Edward who is in love with Henrietta who is having an affair with John, who isn’t only married, but is also the subject of wanton desire of the Hollywood starlet, who he was previously engaged to. I’ve met soap operas with fewer love complications.
Me? My love was for Danielle Silverman’s airy and absent-minded Lady Angkatell, downright excited to be part of her first murder, and who carried what would have been a largely dull play without the laughs brought in by her unexpected attitudes and crazy remarks. This is clearly evidenced by a couple of the Lady-Angkatell-free scenes which really seem to slow the play down and could benefit from a pacing boost.
The other members of this 12-person cast are all solid enough. I was ready to see somebody punch John Cristow in the throat for being such a dick and to bitchslap Edward for being such a pathetic downer, but that’s a compliment to the actors rather than a complaint. (You remember Back to the Future? Biff and Marty’s Dad? That’s John Cristow and Edward Angkatell.)
I was torn by Cathy Nobleman’s Midge Harvey. Her character was obviously aged up from what I felt was supposed to be an early twenties and that led to a couple moments that felt awkward – bemoaning that Edward sees you as a child and not a woman plays if Midge is noticeably younger but when they’re the same age it just seems silly. So while Cathy Nobleman did a fine job, I think the role was miscast.
My only real concern about The Hollow would be a bit too spoilerish to include here but I’m sure to talk about it in an upcoming episode of Talking Theatre and will also post it in the comments below for those who want to know. Rest assured it’s not enough to have kept me from liking it.
The Hollow, thanks to Lady Angkatell and the servants, is a fun little way to spend a mindless (or investigative) evening – especially the final image of act one which had the audience in an uproar worthy of any farce I’ve seen.
What did you think? Were you able to guess who did the deed? Which of Lady Angkatell’s antics had you laughing the hardest? Join the discussion in the comments below.
Photos for this article taken for Production Ottawa by Production Ottawa photographer, David Pasho.