Agatha Christie's Mystery Plays

Young Agatha Christie
British mystery writer Agatha Christie circa 1926. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Agatha Christie wrote more best-selling crime novels than any other writer. As if that weren’t enough, in the 1930s she began a “second career” as a record-breaking playwright. Here is a glimpse of the best mystery plays by the master plot-twister herself.

Murder at the Vicarage

Based on Agatha Christie’s novel, the play was adapted by Moie Charles and Barabra Toy. However, according to biographers, Christie assisted with the writing and attended many of the rehearsals. This mystery features the elderly heroine Miss Marple, a rather gossipy old woman with a knack for solving crimes. Many of the characters underestimate Miss Marple, believing her to be too confused for detective work. But it’s all a ruse – the ol’ gal is as sharp as a tack!

Murder on the Nile

This is my favorite of the Hercule Peroit mysteries. Peroit is a brilliant and often snooty Belgian detective who appeared in 33 Agatha Christie novels. The play takes place on board a palace steamer traveling down the exotic Nile River. The passenger roster contains vengeful ex-lovers, devious husbands, jewel thieves, and several soon-to-be corpses.

Witness for the Prosecution

One of the best courtroom dramas ever written, Agatha Christie’s play provides mystery, surprise, and a fascinating look at the British justice system. I remember watching the 1957 film version of Witness for the Prosecution starring Charles Laughton as the cunning barrister. I must have gasped three different times at each astounding twist in the plot! (And no, I don’t gasp easily.)

And Then There Were None (or, Ten Little Indians)

If you think the title “Ten Little Indians” is politically incorrect, then you’ll be aghast to discover the original title of this famous Agatha Christie play. Controversial titles aside, the plot of this mystery is marvelously sinister. Ten people with deep, dark pasts arrive at a wealthy estate hidden away on a remote island. One by one, the guests are picked off by an unknown murderer. For those of you who like their theater bloody, And Then There Were None has the highest body count of the Agatha Christie plays.

The Mousetrap

This Agatha Christie play has earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is the longest running play in the history of theater. Since its initial run, The Mousetrap has been performed over 24,000 times. It premiered in 1952, transferred to several theaters without ending its run, and then found a seemingly permanent home at the St. Martin Theater. Two of the actors, David Raven and Mysie Monte, played the roles of Mrs. Boyle and Major Metcalf for over 11 years.

At the end of each performance, the audience is asked to keep The Mousetrap a secret. Therefore, in honor of Agatha Christie’s mystery plays, I will remain silent about the plot. All I will say is that if you are ever in London and you want to watch a delightful, old-fashioned mystery, then you should definitely watch The Mousetrap.