Thursday, October 12, 2023

Playwright explores mysterious disappearance in ‘Mrs. Christie’

Jennifer Le Blanc (left) is Agatha Christie with Elissa Beth Stebbins as  Charlotte. (Kevin Berne photo)

        Acclaimed mystery writer Agatha Christie became the center of her own, still unsolved, mystery in 1926. That’s when she disappeared for 11 days and never said why or where she went or what she did during that time.
        Playwright Heidi Armbruster theorizes what might have happened in the intriguing “Mrs. Christie,” being staged by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.    
        The action shifts between the past and present as Christie fan Lucy (Nicole Javier) tries to figure out what happened by seeking a missing notebook  from the author’s papers. 
        Her rival in the search is William (Max Tachis, who doubles as Christie’s publisher, Collins). She’s aided by an older woman, Jane (Lucinda Hitchcock Cone). 
        In the past scenes, Christie (Jennifer Le Blanc) frets over the affair that her husband, Archie (Aldo Billingslea), is having with the much younger Nancy Neele (Kina Kantor). Christie’s secretary, Charlotte (Elissa Beth Stebbins), tends to her needs and listens.
        The play posits that Christie disappears by checking into a hotel under a false name. She seems to lose all track of time despite efforts by the maid, Mary (Stebbins).
        She’s also confronted by Le Detective (William Thomas Hodgson), a stand-in for her fictional sleuth Poirot.
        As past and present characters meet in her home, a possible murder gives Le Detective a chance to show his prowess.
        The action is easy to follow because of artistic director Giovanna Sardelli’s direction and a talented cast that clearly defines each character. The only drawback is that sometimes the dialogue is hard to understand because of the English accents.
        The flexible set is by Christopher Fitzer with lighting by Wen-Ling Liao and sound by James Ard. Cathleen Edwards designed the handsome period costumes.    
        Running about two hours with an intermission, “Mrs. Christie” will continue through Oct. 29 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View.
        For tickets and information, call (877) 662-8978 or visit