Author: Agatha Christie
Time Period: The Present
Format: 3 Acts
Characters: 8 Male, 2 Female, 1 Child
Setting/Sets: 1 Set, 2 Scenes in Act 2
Reviewer: C. T. Cawley
3.2 / 4 Stars
Background and Summary
This play was written at the request of Margret Lockwood, who wanted to play a part of a benign character—a contrary role to those she was typically cast into. Agatha Christie uses devices for this play that appeared in other works, Cheap Flat, The Case of the Buried Treasure, and Evil Under the Sun. This is her second longest-running play after The Mouse Trap. It was first presented on December 14, 1954, at the Savoy Theater, London.
An intruder is murdered in the drawing room of the Hailsham-Brown’s home. A hysterical confession is given by Pippa Hailsham-Brown to her step-mother, Clarissa Hailsham-Brown. The play revolves around the effort by Sir Rowland Delahaye, Clarissa’s former guardian and some of his friends and acquaintances to cover up for Pippa. This causes them to misrepresent the facts to Inspector Lord by concocting an elaborate story and hiding the body. This, of course, is discovered by the Inspector, and the murderer is exposed (not Pippa).
Action occurs on one set, the drawing room of Copplestone Court, Hailsham-Brown’s house in Kent.
If the play were rated according to MPAA guidelines, it would be PG.
The set must include a false panel in the wall which serves as a door to the library. This panel appears as a bookcase in the drawing room. It swings out into the room when a catch in the bookcase is released. This play requires a demanding performance by the child actress portraying Pippa.