The Hollow
Adam House Theatre
THEATRETHIS bold adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1946 novel sees local amateur dramatics group The Edinburgh Makars return to the stage with their fourth production of the year.
   An invitation to Sunday luncheon at The Hollow – the country home of Sir Henry and Lady Lucy Angkatell sets the scene for bringing together a disparate and aristocratic family, whose concealed web of depravity and deceit offers up a mildly intriguing murder mystery.
   From the outset, there is a well-crafted and ominous sense of dysfunction brewing, revealed in the tension between the suave and self-pitying Edward Angkatell and Derek Melon's irritable and distracted John Cristow, centred around their mutual affection toward the elegant sculptress Henrietta Angkatell, played with a sturdy conviction by Beatrice Cant.
   This love triangle emerges as central to the story adapted for the stage by director Sheila Clarke, revealing itself through Edward's hopeless attempts to rekindle old passions with Henrietta and her rebuttal in favour of  the self-confidence and charisma of Christow.
The Hollow
DYSFUNCTIONAL: A lunch date at the home of Sir and Lady Angkatell sets the scene for an intriguing murder mystery
   While both Melon and Cant deliver among the best individual performances of the ensemble cast, their chemistry together is less believable, but just about manages pass marks when considered alongside the aristocracy and restrained posturing of all the other characters.
   However,the emergence of love-struck, manipulative actress and former lover of Cristow, Veronica Craye, provides the highlight of the night through an intense exchange which reveals their difficult past in a well-directed scene which generates a palpable sense of  energy and history between the pair.
   But just as this momentum is beginning to bring the script to life, Cristow is fatally shot; the key event in the story which, instead of opening the floodgates to intrigue and speculation capitalising on the various seeds of suspicion planted in the first act, actually delivers a devastating blow which consigned the second act to little more than a means to an end.
   Both Jurg Denzler and Graham Espin's entry into the fray as Inspector Colquhoun and Detective Penny never once got close to conveying an appropriate sense of authority and drive which could have propelled the story into a engaging web of intrigue.
   Both poor writing and their unimaginative performances are at fault as the tedious process of interrogation sees them pale into insignificance against the comparatively striking eccentricities of the suspects.
   Perhaps the most captivating of all the characters is Jean Henderson's Lucy Angkatell, whose confused logic and revealing commentary on the whole affair offer reliable moments of comic relief throughout, voicing her opinion on the shooting as both a mild inconvenience one moment and a stroke of luck the next, as her increasingly stressed out husband struggles to contain her inconsequential ramblings.
   This murder mystery does deliver on its goal – the double-bluff twist in the final act tying the whole production together with a moment of genuine surprise. It's just a pity that some glaring flaws stood in the way of a solid collective performance which this charismatic group might well achieve on another night.

Run ends Saturday
'For amateurs, they were very good'
Your reviewAnnie Brown, retired, Leith: "I haven't read the book, but I hear the stage version is actually quite different anyway. For an amateur production, I thought they were very good. I liked Lady Lucy." Ruby McGregor, librarian, Liberton: "It was a decent attempt from a cast which are obviously trying their hardest. John Cristow was probably my favourite character so I was a bit disappointed when he was shot early on."
Oliver Trotter, student, Bruntsfield "There's a few

creaky performances in there but also some strong ones too. Henrietta and Veronica were played very well and Lucy provided the soul of the play with her light-hearted strand."
Stephen Davies, nurse, Saughton: "I've seen them in the past and this time round they were much better."