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by Agatha Christie

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Clarissa, wife of a diplomat, is adept at spinning tales of adventure, but when a murder takes place in her drawing room she finds live drama much harder to cope with. Desperate to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests. Hilarity ensues when they are interrupted by the arrival of wry detective Inspector Lord. 


A conscious parody of the detective thriller, Christie delivers a unique blend of suspense and humour. There is tension and laughter in equal parts in an intricate plot of murder, police, drug addicts, invisible ink, hidden doorways and secret drawers.





CLARISSA HAILSHAM-BROWN (F, 25-30) The second wife of Henry Hailsham-Brown, charming and inventive. Her imagination tends to work overtime, with some unexpected consequences.


SIR ROWLAND DELAHAYE (M, 50-60) A distinguished gentleman with very definite charm. Clarissa’s guardian, friend, and adviser, he likes to think that he can guide her, but would never admit that she has him wrapped around her little finger.


HUGO BIRCH (M, 50-60) The local Justice of the Peace. A rather irascible type who shouldn’t be involved in business like a murder.


JEREMY WARRENDER (M, 25-30) An elegant young man and guest at the Hailsham-Brown’s house, the private secretary for a man much wealthier than he.


PIPPA HAILSHAM-BROWN (F, 12-14) Clarissa’s young stepdaughter. She exhibits the strong emotional swings of a pre-teen, made worse by previous family problems.


MILDRED PEAKE (F, 30-50s) A big hearty country woman who lives in a cottage on the estate and acts as gardener.


ELGIN (M, 40-60s) The butler. Nothing escapes his attention.


OLIVER COSTELLO (M 40s) He is suspected of shady dealings. None of the other characters like him and neither should the audience – even though he is killed in the first act, his body gets to hang around in the second act.


HENRY HAILSHAM-BROWN (M, 35-50) Clarissa’s husband. A good-looking man with a rather expressionless face who works in the foreign office, a strong, solid type.


INSPECTOR LORD (M, 40-50s) The wheels are always turning in his brain. Although he doesn’t let on, he doesn’t miss a thing.


CONSTABLE JONES (M 20-40s) He and the Inspector have been working together long enough that they understand each other well.





Here are some very simple tips:

  • If you are asked to memorize something, do it thoroughly. In the audition you want to be focusing on the character and what they are saying and doing, rather than being an actor desperately trying to remember your words. The audition room will be different from your bedroom, so try performing your speech in different locations. The director will want to know that you are reliable if they are going to trust you with the responsibility of a role in the production.

  • Engage imaginatively with what the character is saying and why they are saying it. Remember that they are speaking to someone else, so engage with what you want them to understand. Even if the character is speaking to themselves, they are still doing so for a reason, so try to engage with what you think that might be.

  • To make sure you have learned it fully and deeply, do other activities while speaking the speech. The more you do this, the sturdier your learning of the speech. Also, quite often this will encourage you, unconsciously, to say it in different ways. This will be helpful in making you more confident, especially if a director asks you to do it differently.

  • Don’t forget to practice your SLATE! The slate is the part of the audition (before the monologue) when you introduce yourself and tell the director what play your monologue is from and the playwright.

  • Finally, READ THE PLAY! The answers to many questions about the speech will be in the play itself. Find out ALL the simple facts about your character, and make sure you have an understanding of what has recently happened to them and what is happening to them at this point in the play. If you don't know, not only will it be very difficult to perform the speech with any sense of integrity or accuracy, but you will feel silly if a director asks you about the character you are playing and you can’t answer.



Tips for the big day…

  • Be confident and try to enjoy the audition as much as possible. Remember the team will be there to help and support you, not to judge you!

  • Arrive with plenty of time to spare so that you do not add to your nerves.

  • Warm yourself up in advance both physically and vocally using exercises you have learned in theatre class.

  • Good preparation in advance of your audition is key to helping you feel calm and confident on the day, giving you the best chance of showing yourself off to the best of your ability.

  • Dress professionally, yet comfortably. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to look like it. Avoid long sleeves or jewelry that you’ll be tempted to fidget with onstage.

  • Students with long hair should ensure they have their hair tied back.

  • Try to enjoy the audition and use it as a fun, learning experience.

  • Do not make the mistake of believing that you have a part before you do! Building yourself up too much can lead to disappointment.

  • Go into the audition with an open mind, looking at it as an opportunity and new experience from which you will learn.

  • Do not worry if something goes wrong in the audition. The audition team is there to see potential, not a finished, polished routine.

  • Presentation is important. Ensure that even if you feel nervous and everything goes wrong, you smile, project your voice and try to come across as enthusiastically and confidently as possible!

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