Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films
2015 is of course the 125th birthday of the Queen of Crime Dame Agatha Christie. Alongside a number of events that have been organised to celebrate this there have also been a number of books published. Curtain Up: Agatha Christie: A Life in Theatre is amongst them.
This book concentrates on her plays and will undoubtedly bring a lot of pleasure to Agatha Christie fans the world over. Whilst everyone knows about Mousetrap which is, of course, her most famous play; not many know that she is the only woman to have three plays showing in the West End at the same time. A feat in itself, in what has always been a male dominated arena. Curtain Up tells amongst other things, the inside story behind plays such as Witness for the Prosecution (which is better known as the film featuring Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Power) and of course, Mousetrap.
This book certainly fills a space when one considers all the other books (which tend to be about her novels) that have been written about Agatha Christie. Julius Green has clearly and extensively down his research with this book and weighing in at nearly 600 pages he has used the opportunity to show case the fact that she was much more than a crime writer. Her early efforts covered a wide range of social issues including marriage, adultery, divorce and female emancipation.
From my point of view, I was interested to learn about her 1937 play, Akhnaton which was set in Ancient Egypt. It is clear that she had a love of Egypt and it is a shame that it was never performed whilst she was still alive.
Green’s attention to detail is what makes Curtain Up such a mesmerising if somewhat long read. Don’t solely read it as being about Agatha Christie and her plays but read it also for the intriguing details on the business of producing plays for the theatre especially during the inter-war years. Absorbing and well-written, Curtain Up is a testament to the longstanding appeal of Agatha Christie.