WESTERLY — Oh what fun it is to get lost in a good Agatha Christie mystery. In the case of "The Hollow," now on stage at the Granite Theatre, what fun it is to get lost in a good Agatha Christie mystery filled with fabulous characters and talented actors.
Directed by Granite veteran John Cillino, "The Hollow" takes place in the garden room at the country estate of Lord Henry and Lady Lucy Angatell outside London where six guests have been invited for the weekend. Geoff Leatham, who has performed on the Granite stage on and off for more than a decade, is perfectly cast as the dapper and congenial host, Sir Henry Angkatell. It's Leatham's on stage wife, however, who practically steals the show, and his real-life wife who swoops onto the stage in stunning fashion, giving a memorable Greta Garbo-esque performance.
Molly Marks, who, according to the program notes, "has created over 50 characters in her 50 years of enjoying everything there is to enjoy in the wonderful dynamics of live theatre" is splendid in the role of the absent-minded Lady Lucy. Just splendid. Marks plays the role with charm, humor and heart. Clare Leatham, (who is married to Geoff,) is divine in the role of film star Veronica Craye. Veronica, the only uninvited guest to arrive at the Angatell's, arrives in the garden room with great flourish reporting that the power has gone out at her rental cottage next door, so she has come seeking matches. She has really come to see her old lover, Dr. John Cristow (Michael Thurber) one of the guests who has arrived with his wife, Gerda (Michelle Mania) although his mistress, Henrietta Angkatell (Veronica Strickland) is also present. Thurber, who was last seen on stage at the Granite as an impressive Daddy Warbucks, is excellent as the condescending lady's man; Mania, a company regular, gives her usual fine performance as his dim-witted, devoted wife, and Strickland, another company regular, shines as his mistress who also happens to be a prominent sculptor as well as Sir Henry's first cousin. Other guests, who are announced by faithful butler, Gudgeon (Bob Mignari, is also well-cast) include Edward Angatell (Tom Steenburg is very good as the awkward nephew) and Midge Harvey (Lydia Fascia is also quite good.)
When Dr. Cristow is murdered before our eyes (the murderer is off-stage) everyone becomes a suspect, even the snooping maid Doris (Ann Westendorf, in her fifth Granite appearance, is a hoot.)
Thank goodness for Inspector Colquhoun, C.L.D. (Michael Jepson, the twin brother of Artistic Director David Jepson, is always top notch,) and Detective Sergeant Penny (Warren Usey, in his fifth Granite appearance, is not only marvelous, but has fast become an audience favorite) who arrive to solve the mystery.
As Cillino noted while the play was still in rehearsal, "It's an interesting story with a very solid cast." One where "everybody has a chance to shine ... and they all take advantage of their moments."
Bravo to the crew: Stage Manager Linda Shea, set designer and builders; David Jepson, Jimmy Pollitt, Mel Jolly, Fred Bartkiewicz, Tom Danusis, Henry Ferrara and Michael Wlochowski; and costumes, Beth Jepson and Paula Brouilette.