KATS, THE Knocknacarra Amateur Theatre Society take to the stage of the Town Hall studio next week in a staging of Agatha Christie’s compelling thriller, The Unexpected Guest.
First performed in 1958, the play is a veritable Pandora’s box of love, hate, suspicion, and intrigue. The action opens on a foggy night, as Michael Starkwedder, whose car has gone off the road, makes his way to a nearby house looking for assistance.
Michael - the eponymous unexpected guest - enters the home of the Warwicks through a window in the study. There he finds the dead body of Richard Warwick, and Warwick’s wife, Laura, holding a gun that apparently killed him.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, and Laura’s initial admission of guilt, Starkwedder does not believe she killed her husband, and offers to help her concoct a cover story.
The two decide to place the blame on an enemy from the past, MacGregor, a man whose son was run over by Richard while he was drunk. As the story progresses, the two fake the fact that they were just finding out about the murder, and others in the house are introduced.
It is revealed Laura was having an affair due to Richard's cruel nature, and was vouching for the man she was cheating with when she claimed to have killed Richard. However there are other suspects as well - Warwick’s mother, his simple half-brother, the sinister Angell, or the apparently goody-goody Miss Bennett. The real murderer could be anyone and this play will keep the audience guessing right to the end.
The KATS’ production is directed by company stalwart Pat Lally; “We wanted to do something that would appeal to an audience and, as far as we know, Agatha Christie has not been done in Galway for a long time,” she tells me as she gets ready for rehearsals on Monday evening.
“We thought a murder mystery would appeal and this one has all the ingredients you could want from a whodunit,” she continues. “A dead body is discovered at the very beginning and from there it is a matter of eliminating and trying to figure out who did it and there is an unexpected twist at the end as Christie often has. We’re having great fun doing it.”
The role of Michael Starkwedder is played by Barry Keen while Martha O’Toole plays Laura Warwick. Also featured in the cast of eight are former KATS’ chair Frank Mullen and Teresa McKeever.
The Unexpected Guest runs at the Town Hall Studio from Tuesday November 6 to Saturday 10 at 8.30pm nightly and tickets are €10/8. Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie