The jowls did it for me. As a child I can remember being fascinated by the way they rippled and undulated when she spoke.
Even today, when I watch a film with the late, great Margaret Rutherford,
Murder, Marple and Me
Gilded Balloon, Teviot
Star rating: * * * *
I find myself strangely mesmerised by the sheer expressive force of her features.
For most, Rutherford is best remembered as the star of four Miss Marple movies made in the 1960s.
Already an old lady in the twilight of her career, she became a star all over again, albeit a reluctant one, as Philip Meeks reveals in his concise and clever script.
Murder, Marple and Me finds Rutherford in reflective mood. Not only did the idea of playing Miss Marple trouble her, Agatha Christie herself was no fan of her casting in the role.
Despite this, the pair became friends and through this friendship Meeks reveals Rutherford’s shocking, and heart-breaking, secret.
Commanding the stage, Janet Prince, pictured above, alternates between the crime author and the stooped actress. Her Christie is always in control. Her Rutherford very different when in front of cameras and in the privacy of the home she shared with Tuft, her actor husband Stringer Davis. At these times, Prince captures the childlike nature of a star, who always seemed to live her life just a step out of time.
An eternal schoolgirl, all jolly hockey sticks and late-night suppers, it’s a persona she has created to protect her from the tragedy haunting her every thought. To say more would spoil the story for those who don’t know it.
A period set enhances the drama nicely, while Stella Duffy’s direction is tight and to the point, allowing Prince to build on the actress’s famous idiosyncrasies.
Prince might not boast those famous jowls, but she channels the spirit of Rutherford with uncanny ease.
• Until August 26