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Agatha Christie plays rediscovered

Agatha Christie. Photo: Doug McKenzie Agatha Christie. Photo: Doug McKenzie
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Previously unknown plays by Agatha Christie have been discovered in archives of the author’s possessions.

The 10 plays – five full-length and five one-act works – were discovered by producer Julius Green while researching a book about the author’s work in theatre. He heralded the find as a “forgotten piece of theatre history”.

Outside of her novels, Christie is known for several plays including The Mousetrap, currently the longest-running play in the world, which premiered in the West End in 1952.

Green, who founded the Agatha Christie Theatre Company as part of Bill Kenwright’s production company, discovered the works after being granted access to Christie’s papers by her family, including draft writings, letters, notebooks and diaries.

Christie’s stage adaptation of her novel Towards Zero is among the newfound plays, as well as what Green described as a “hard-hitting domestic drama” titled The Lie, written around the time of the breakdown of Christie’s first marriage.

The other full-length plays discovered are The Clutching Hand, The Stranger – adapted from her short story Philomel Cottage – and Someone at the Window, which was adapted from another short story, The Dead Harlequin.

Towards Zero and Philomel Cottage were subsequently reworked for the stage by other writers, but this is the first time it has become known that Christie wrote her own adaptations.

Green told The Stage: “Most of them them were part of the archive material that was held at the Christie archive, but people hadn’t really picked them up and asked: ‘What is this?’, because there’s just so much material there.”

He claimed the discovery proved her range was wider than “just writing thrillers”, adding: “There’s a very hard-hitting domestic drama among the scripts, and some Noel Coward-type comedies as well.”

Emphasising the importance of the discovery, the producer explained: “Oddly, despite the fact she’s the most successful female playwright of all time, she’s pretty well been written out of the history books as a playwright, other than the obvious one [The Mousetrap].

“People forget that in the 1950s she was arguably the most successful playwright in the country, she’s the only woman ever to have had three plays on in the West End simultaneously. So this is a forgotten piece of theatre history.”

It is not yet known whether any of the plays will be performed, as Christie’s estate owns the copyright to her works.

Green’s book, Curtain Up: Agatha Christie – A Life in Theatre, will be published on September 10.

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