REVIEW: Meet double-crossing scoundrels in first adaptation of Agatha Christie thriller

The Secret Adversary
The Secret Adversary

Secret documents, government agents, glamorous nightclubs and car chases are all part of the adventure for plucky young things Tommy and Tuppence in an Agatha Christie thriller on at Royal & Derngate in Northampton this week.

This first stage adaptation of Christie’s 1920s novel The Secret Adversary portrays a young couple making their way in a world beset by political upheaval and austerity.

Tommy and Tuppence were favourites of Christie as she returned to her crimefighting couple several times over the years, writing new adventures for them between 1922 and the early 1970s as the couple grew from excitable youngsters “willing to do anything” and ageing along with the author herself.

Yet despite the fact that the story is set in difficult times just after the First World War, this is far from a bleak look at the grim realities of post-war Britain, it’s rather silly and fun.

We know this from the moment we are introduced to the story in a nightclub with bright lights, music and cocktail glasses and an array of eccentric characters all played by the cast of seven actor/musicians.

There are songs, showgirls, magic tricks, sinister Bolsheviks and double-crossing scoundrels in this tale of the search for a document that could tip the country into revolution.

Perhaps there were too many twists and turns to the plot as it did seem to be cramming a great deal of comings and goings into proceedings at points, but having said that it was all done with great inventiveness and humour and I particularly liked how they allowed us to spy on the dastardly plotters through a keyhole or from an overhead skylight.

Our intrepid couple were played with fizzing energy by Garmon Rhys, who was Wilfred Owen in the Royal & Derngate’s recent production of Regeneration, and Emerald O’Hanrahan who is known to Archers fans as Emma Grundy.

The other cast members were so versatile, playing instruments, darting in and out of entrances and trapdoors and taking on numerous roles between them.

Among the crime writer’s creations, Marple and Poirot have provided many a TV and film drama, but the adventures of Tommy and Tuppence have been relatively overlooked.

Perhaps their time has come.