Love From A Stranger

Rebecca Varidel
15th Jan 2023

As a short story Philomel Cottage is a departure from the usual style of Agatha Christie so it's no surprise that when this and its progeny, the small cast psychological thriller The Stranger by Agatha Christie were translated by her and her contemporary Frank Vosper, that Love From A Stranger has a different feel and flow to the mass of her murder mysteries.

Love from a Stranger opened at the New Theatre (now Noël Coward) in the West End in 1936. It was then reworked for film a year later, starring Ann Harding and Basil Rathbone.

Director for this 2023 production of Love From A Stranger Tui Clark explains "the tale of a young bride ensnared by obsession and love has passed down through the generations - from Ovid in Ancient Greece to T.S. Eliot, onwards to Agatha Christie, and finally to us at the Genesian Theatre here in Sydney."

Love From A Stranger is an invitation like all of the works of Agatha Christie to try and uncover the ending before those on the stage screen or pages present it to you. I thought I knew, but no - I didn't deduce or even guess.

Emilia Kriketos delivers an outstanding performance as the love struck Cecily, with clear elocution, perfect timing, compelling expressions, gestures, stance and movement, she captures and keeps our attention as the central character of the story.

In the male lead as her love interest Bruce, Sam Walter delivers a strong and notable performance through the range of moods and emotions of his character. His dramatic abilities keep us mesmerized. 

Costume design by Susan Carveth provided period foundations for a play that has a few corners of cobwebs. The production needed a little more honing and a little more attention to details. Prim and proper for the privileged should have been the order of the day yet there were times that this just wasn't convincing. And more could have been made of the class shifts that were emerging at the time. The script allows for it.

Love From A Stranger however isn't all about privilege and Rod Stewart as the British country gardener Hodgson had us believing his class and place. There was never a moment when this Genesian Theatre veteran left us in any doubt that we were in an Agatha Christie story.

The plot and its final outcome was intriguing and entertaining. Love From A Stranger at Genesian Theatre provided a much-needed light shift and relief in what has been a month of intense theatre this January at Sydney Festival.

Photo by Craig O'Regan