Chimneys (play)

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Chimneys
Written by Agatha Christie
Date premiered 16 October 2003
Original language English

Chimneys is a play by crime writer Agatha Christie and is based upon her own 1925 novel The Secret of Chimneys. The play was written in 1931 and was due to open at the Embassy Theatre in Swiss Cottage in December of that year. One year previously, Black Coffee, Christie's first performed stage play, had opened at the same theatre.

As was the law at the time, the play was vetted by the Lord Chamberlain's Office and passed for performance. Several press articles[who?] referred to the new play but suddenly, and without explanation, the theatre substituted Mary Broome, a four-act comedy from 1912 by Allan Monkhouse, in its place.

The play was all-but-forgotten until December 2001 when John Paul Fischbach, the artistic director of the Vertigo Mystery Theatre in Calgary, Canada was looking to re-launch the company after it had been forced to vacate its home in the Calgary Science Centre and was opening in its new home of the Vertigo Theatre Centre. In looking for something special and relatively unknown to celebrate the opening, Fischbach contacted Agatha Christie Limited, who handle the author's rights, and was told by its chairman (and Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard) that the only relatively unknown stage work that could be performed was the 1930s play A Daughter's a Daughter which was performed once in the 1950s but had previously been revised into a 1952 novel published under the nom-de-plume of Mary Westmacott.

Fischbach had a copy of the play available and in looking through it, found another manuscript headed: Chimneys: A play in three acts by Agatha Christie. He again contacted Prichard who admitted that he had heard of the play but had never seen a copy. Prichard contacted the British Library who found a second copy of the manuscript in their archives (together with notes suggesting Laurence Olivier for one of the roles) and the Vertigo Mystery Theatre presented the play's world premiere on 16 October 2003 with Mathew Prichard in the audience.

The UK premiere took place on 1 June 2006 when it was performed by the Pitlochry Festival Theatre Company. The US premiere took place on 12 June 2008 as part of the International Mystery Writers' Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky.

The play has been published in the collection "Discovering New Mysteries Scripts" by on Stage Press, a division of Samuel French, Inc.

UK premiere – Pitlochry (2006)[edit]

Director: John Durnin

Cast: Jonathan Battersby as Tredwell
Jonathan Coote as Lemoine
Jacqueline Dutoit as Old Lady
Robin Harvey Edwards as Lord Caterham
Michele Gallagher as Lady Eileen Brent
Martyn James as The Hon. George Lomax
Jonathan Dryden Taylor as Bill Eversleigh
Darrell Brockis as Anthony Cade
Flora Berkeley as Virginia Revel
Richard Addison as the Stranger
Ronald Simon as Superintendent Battle
Matthew Lloyd Davies as Herbert Banks
Richard Galazka as Boris Anchoukoff

External links[edit]

  • [1] Sunday Herald article on discovery and world premiere of the play.
  • [2] BBC article on play's discovery in the British Library
  • [3] Review of UK premiere in Pitlochry
  • [4] Article in Playbill on play's discovery and US premiere