There’s something reassuring about an Agatha Christie play, whether it’s at the stately home setting, it features an unflappable detective or you're annoyed that you should have guessed the killer far more quickly than you did. HumDrum’s Spider’s Web is a great example, with practically all the characters having motive to murder.
Gemma Valler plays Clarissa, who is the heart of the piece. Newly married and moved to the countryside, she spins stories to stave off boredom. But when one becomes all too real, she handles the situation with a coolness and clarity that defies the men around her.
Valler plays the role perfectly, utter calmness with a playful twinkle in her eye. It’s a beautifully understated performance.
At the other end of the scale, Jeanette Broad is a gloriously OTT Miss Peake who plays the gardener, with a seemingly direct relation of Bertie Wooster’s aunts with her booming greetings and disregard for authority.
The authority comes in the form of Claire Stevens’ Inspector Lord. It’s an inspired move by director James George to cast the inspector as female and Stevens lends the role a warmth that makes the scenes between Lord and Clarissa rather touching.
Elsewhere Mackenzie Gilmore acts with an assurance that belies his young age as Clarissa’s step son, holding his own in a uniformly excellent cast.