The Mystery of Agatha Christie’s Eleven Lost Days
By Chris Jaeger
Starring Liz Grand
The Swan Theatre Vesta Tilley Studio
Tuesday 19th – Saturday 23rd September at 7.45pm, Saturday Matinee at 2pm
A Mystery about the Greatest Mystery Writer of All Time Opens at Worcester’s Swan Theatre
Friday 15th September is #ChristieDay, and on what would have been the Queen of Crime’s birthday, we’re throwing the spotlight on the latest offering from the Worcester Repertory Company – a brand new play about the mystery of Agatha Christie’s eleven lost days, opening at the Swan Theatre next week.
Out-sold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. She wrote sixty-six detective novels and fourteen short story collections, as well as the world’s longest-running play, The Mousetrap, and her super-sleuth creations Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are literally beloved by millions.
But in 1926, the greatest thriller writer of all time was at the centre of a mystery as perplexing as any of her fiction; a series of events that sparked one of the biggest and most extensive manhunts in history.
Her crashed car was discovered in Surrey and the famous author was missing, presumed dead by many, for eleven days. When she was eventually found – at a luxury hotel in Harrogate – the author claimed that she was suffering from amnesia and remembered nothing. Neither the press nor the police believed her…
Did she lie, or was it really amnesia? Was it a publicity stunt? Or was there a darker secret behind the disappearance that would affect her for the rest of her life? As in all good thrillers, all will be revealed in the Rep’s stunning new one-woman show, starring corps Rep actor and star of The Second Best Bed, Liz Grand.
Author and Director Chris Jaeger began his own sleuthing into the events surrounding, and indeed during, those eleven mysterious days two years ago, and certainly has his own beliefs as to what went on. It takes some careful research – and certain sensitivity – to write and form opinions about an international treasure.
“That Agatha Christie is a one of the most popular writers of all time is beyond dispute, measured by just about any yardstick you care to choose,” he says. “Like many of her fans, I knew vaguely about her going missing for eleven days. I knew there had been a film about it called Agatha starring Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy
Dalton and Dustin Hoffman which, although factually complete tosh, had been quite well-received by the public, despite the Christie Estate trying to get it withdrawn. It seemed to me to be a great subject for a one-woman show; a mystery about the greatest mystery writer of all time.”
“Agatha claimed that she was suffering from amnesia and didn’t remember anything after the car accident. Neither the police nor the press believed that, and the press hounded her so much that it was to be many years before she would give an interview again. When eventually she did start giving interviews, the questions had to be submitted in advance. She would never allow a question about her disappearance and any deviation from the agreed questions led to an immediate termination of the interview.”
There were many theories about what the disappearance was actually about. Many people thought it was a publicity stunt to help with book sales, and one reader of the Daily Telegraph wrote to the letters editor suggesting the public should never buy one of her books again for having wasted so much police and public time.
Another theory was that she wanted revenge on her husband for his taking a mistress and tried to frame him for her non-existent murder. “A little far-fetched, perhaps, even for a writer of fiction,” Jaeger suggests. “I believe that one thing is certain – despite the testimony of two (paid) medical experts, at no stage did Agatha suffer from amnesia. But you’ll have to come along and watch the play to discover what I think actually happened!” How very mysterious indeed!
Where Is Mrs Christie? opens in the Swan Theatre Vesta Tilley Studio with a world premiere on Tuesday 19th September and runs to Saturday 23rd September, before embarking on a number of national tour dates. Tickets are available from the Worcester Live Box Office on 01905 611427 or at www.worcesterlive.co.uk.
20 interesting facts about Agatha Christie
1. She wrote her first book as the result of a challenge from her sister Madge.
2. In her late teens she studied to be a classical pianist but was too nervous to perform.
3. She is the only crime writer to have created two equally famous and much loved characters
– Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.
4. She is the only female dramatist ever to have had three plays running simultaneously in
London’s West End.
5. Her first book waited five years before publication having been rejected by six
6. She wrote Absent in the Spring under pen name Mary Westmacott in one weekend.
7. She dedicated The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side to Margaret Rutherford – the first
cinema Miss Marple.
8. She described The Mystery of the Blue Train as “easily the worst book I ever wrote”.
9. When he died, Hercule Poirot was given a full-page obituary in The New York Times.
10. Her home in Torquay, Greenway House, was requisitioned by the US Navy during the Second
11. For many years she was the President of the local amateur drama society in Wallingford.
12. She was a teetotaller and non-smoker.
13. On the day she died the West End theatres dimmed their lights for one hour.
14. Her favourite writers were Elizabeth Bowen and Graham Greene.
15. Her last public appearance was at the 1974 premiere of Murder on the Orient Express.
16. The Mousetrap began life as a 20 minute radio play.
17. When Penguin paperbacks were launched in 1935 The Mysterious Affair at Styles was one of
the first 10 titles.
18. Agatha Christie’s name has appeared every day for the last 53 years in every newspaper
with a West End theatre listing.
19. She never allowed any representation of Poirot to appear on book jackets.
20. In 1955 Agatha Christie became a Limited Company.