STAGE REVIEW: Murder, Margaret and Me at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Tuesday, October 8 to Saturday, October 12, 2019.

ABSORBING, captivating and totally engaging.

This is part of the show’s world premiere tour and is based on real life events, key moments involving one of the country’s iconic authors and leading character actresses - the outstanding novelist Agatha Christie and the much-loved, irascible stage and film star Margaret Rutherford.

It all centres around the spiritual presence of Christie’s greatest character, Miss Marple - the spinster sleuth.

Here Philip Meeks has done a first rate job with his version of the ‘legendary gathering’ with a fine mix of fantasy and fact, all written with considerable gentleness and sympathy.

The three-hander features Lin Blakley as Christie; Sarah Parks, who is a first rate Rutherford right down to the tongue in her cheek, and Gilly Tompkins, who played the Spinster. All as absolutely endearing and enduring as pair were in their pomp.

Meeks’ mix provides an engaging exercise with each of the trio comfortable in their roles as the action is steadily cranked up via a pace that could easily have matched Christie at her best.

We view the lives of our main protagonists through the eyes of Miss Marple, portrayed with a neat tinge of humour.

There’s an excellent balance of emotions as director Damian Cruden expertly embraces Meeks’s script which helps add to the overall enjoyment.

Not a whodunnit - but a who were they, with a somewhat unique and unusual glimpse into the lives of two of the entertainment world’s greatest names of the past century.