Murder in the West End Volume II: The Plays of Agatha Christie and Her Disciples (hardback)
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Murder in the West End Volume II: The Plays of Agatha Christie and Her Disciples (hardback)

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Murder in the West End Volume II: The Plays of Agatha Christie and Her Disciples

by Amnon Kabatchnik

 

550 pages

6x9 size

ISBN 9798887714714

 

During the first two decades of the twentieth century, only a few criminous plays premiered in London's West End. The Tragedy of Nan (1908), by John Masefield, is the story of Nan Hardwick, whose father was hung for stealing sheep and she moves in with her uncle, William Pargetter, a farmer. Soon Nan finds herself under the yoke of Pargetter's shrewish wife and gossipy daughter. The growing torment leads to deadly violence and a tragic climax. A.E.W. Mason's The witness for the Defense (1911) takes place in colonial India. An English woman, Stella Ballantyne, is tortured by her husband Stephen, and the curtain falls as Stella points a rifle at him. In The case of Lady Camber (1915), by Horace Annesley Vachell, Alice Camber, a former music hall entertainer, is a patient at a nursing home. When Alice is found fatally poisoned, the suspect is Esther Yorke, a good looking research assistant who had in the past a liaison with Alice's husband. George Playdell's The Ware Case (1915) is centered on a trial unfolding at the Old Bailey. Sir Hubert Wane, a resident of a small English town, is accused of drowning his wealthy brother in the estate's pool. He is arrested and brought to trial, with the audience serving as a jury. In The Secret Woman (1920), by Eden Phillpotts, primitive emotions explode when Ann Redvers, a farmer's wife, discovers that after twenty years of blissful marriage, her husband has fallen for another woman. Bulldog Drummond (1921), by "Sapper" and Gerald du Maurier, begins with a patriotic Englishman, Hugh Drummond, launching a series of adventures, wherein he clashes with arch-villain Carl Peterson in a battle Royal.

 

Then came Edgar Wallace, a prolific writer of thrillers. He was the first to make a specialty of detective drama. Among his many plays, The Ringer, On the Spot, and The Case of the Frightened Lady are generally considered the best. It is widely perceived that only the Bible and the plays of Shakespeare have sold more copies than Agatha Christie's whodunits. Among Christie's fifteen stage thrillers, the notable ones are Ten Little Indians, The Mousetrap, and Witness for the Prosecution. Playwrights who followed Wallace and Christie with their plays of menace and crime include W. Somerset Maugham, A.A. Milne, J. B. Priestley, Daphne du Maurier, Terrence Rattigan, Aldous Huxley, John Osborne, Graham Greene, and Jeffrey Archer.

 

Amnon Kabatchnik, now retired, was a professor of theater at SUNY Binghamton, Stanford University, Ohio State University, Florida State University, and Elmira College. He directed numerous dramas, comedies, thrillers, and musicals in New York and across the United States. He is the author of Sherlock Holmes on the Stage as well as the seven-volume series Blood on the Stage.

 

The book’s entries are presented chronologically and include a plot synopsis, production data, opinions by critics and scholars, as well as biographical sketches of playwrights and key actors-directors.