Entertainment » Theatre

The Hollow

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Sep 9, 2019
Claire Leatham and Michael Thurber in "The Hollow."
Claire Leatham and Michael Thurber in "The Hollow."  

Granite Theatre's "The Hollow," based on the book by the hugely popular author Agatha Christie, is not high art, but it is a clever diversion which will keep you in suspense until the very end.

As in other Christie stories, there's a colorful group of relatives gathered in a remote location, which becomes the scene of a murder.

This time, members of the Angkatell family are embroiled in a mystery in their lavish country home outside of London, known as "The Hollow."

Michael Thurber plays John Cristow, a philandering doctor who cheats on his long-suffering wife Gerda (Michelle Mania). The other women in his life are good-natured Henrietta (Veronica Strickland), who makes sculptures, and Veronica Craye, a beautiful and self-centered movie actress who lives down the road.

Cristow sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night to make love to Veronica. He tells Veronica he is not leaving Gerda to be in a relationship with her. An enraged Veronica vows to kill him. Not long after, he is shot by an assailant out of view of the audience.

Could it be Sir Henry (Geoff Leatham) who brags about his extensive gun collection and takes his guests out in the garden for target practice?
Maybe the Angkatell's loyal butler Gudgeon (Bob Mignarri) fired the fatal shot?

Or did a jealous Henrietta realize she had suffered enough abuse and took her anger out on John?

Two detectives (Michael Jepson and Warren Usey) show up at the house to investigate the murder and discover a handbag on the sofa. Did the killer leave it there?

It's always fun to guess who the murderer is and I tried my best, but in typical Christie fashion, we are led to believe one character is guilty, then another, and then another. There are so many twists and turns it's nearly impossible to keep track of them all.

Director John Cillino, who starred in last summer's "Barefoot in the Park," stages the action capably, allowing plenty of humor to break the mounting tension.

Thurber is enjoyable as the smug and cynical doctor who confesses he doesn't really care about his patients, but rather the diseases they are afflicted with.

Claire Leatham is a campy blast as the scheming vixen Veronica, whose obsession with John borders on the psychotic.

I also liked Lydia Fascia as the seemingly innocent shopgirl Midge, who has affection for the enigmatic Edward (Tom Steenburg).

Molly Marks steals every scene as Henry's forgetful wife Lucy, who takes bizarre delight in Cristow's untimely demise and looks forward to attending his inquest. Jepson and Usey's befuddled reactions to Lucy are priceless.
Granite Theatre is known for its impressive set designs and this time is no exception. David Jepson ("On Golden Pond") created a gorgeous living room where all the murder and madness take place. It's a feast for the eyes.

"The Hollow" runs through September 29. Granite Theatre. 1 Granite St., Westerly, RI. For tickets, visit www.granitetheatre.com.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.

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