Saturday, July 25, 2009

Time for a Mystery

Oh my gosh...nearly August. We are finally getting that warm, gooey Wisconsin weather that I love to hate. Mid-summer and mid-winter are my times to stop, and dig into a light mystery. In high school, I loved to prowl through the mystery section of the public library on my way home. Of course, Gothics were my favorite, but eventually, thanks to a teacher - who was intuitive enough to know that I needed a push to move beyond the romantic stories of women with mysterious pasts, roaming the moors in search of their true identifies, and true loves - I found Agatha Christie. Yes, her stories are predictable, but, what the heck, if I can solve the crime before the detective does - that's half the fun.

PBS is currently running a series called "Masterpiece Mystery" featuring full-length adaptations of novels by the "Queen of crime." As with all PBS shows, there is a moodiness that is seldom captured in modern mysteries set in the United states. The two I have seen so far focus on setting dear to my heart - a school, and a theatre company. With that as inspiration, I decided it was time for a mid-summer mystery break.

Murder at the Vicarage introduces Christie's beloved Miss Jane Marple, who, to me, is more fun than the stories themselves. The tweedy Miss Marple lives in Saint Mary's Mead. First impressions are that Jane is fluffy, and confused. I often wondered if that's why Christie had her live in a village named "Mead". Did Miss Marple tip a few when not on a case? Or was her name a play on the word "marble, " suggesting that she had lost hers?
In reality, Miss Jane Marple is patient, observant and intuitive. She watches, and then threads together the patches of what she sees. Eventually, she gathers all the possible suspects, and one by one, lays out their actions on the days leading up to, and following the crime. One by one, she eliminates individuals, and readers get to watch while the real perptrator sweats.

Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, solves the bulk of Christie's mysteries. Unlike Miss Marple, Poirot uses psychological inquiry, rather than working off of physical clues. He is one of the best defined characters in all fiction. Through his stories, we learn about his family life, his work on the police department, his years as a private detective, and even how he spent his retirement. Christie admitted that she liked Jane better, and that she found Poirot tedious and annoying. Still, he was the main character in the majority of her novels, and despite his popularity, she killed him off in a novel called Curtain. It was the only time the New York Times ran a obituary for a fictional character.

Agatha Christie wrote eighty novels and over one dozen plays. Mousetrap, which I was lucky to see in London, is the longest running play in theatre history, with 23,000 performances. Grease and A Chorus Line are close behind.

Emily's a nice photo of ET as Lily in "The Secret Garden," at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. The show has gotten warm reviews, but the comments about our Emily have been glowing.

The Depp Report!

Get ready for another Tim Burton-Johnny Depp collaboration. Alice in Wonderland is set for release in 2010. Click on this link to see a trailer
I hope that's a complicated address, and my fingers don't always hit the keys they intend to.