Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

The Hollow
The Adobe Theater
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Nicee Wagner, Lorri Layle Oliver,
and Tyler Alan Strand

Photo by Dan Ware
Written in 1951, The Hollow is one of twenty plays written by Agatha Christie. Adapted for the stage from her book of the same title, she eliminated the role of Hercule Poirot whose appearance in the book she thought had ruined it. The play is the standard three-act, one location mystery at a country home where a cast of upper-crust characters come for weekend socialization. One of them is murdered, and the local police arrive to solve the case. Characteristic of the time, the play has a running time of three hours. The director, Pete Parkin, chose The Hollow because it is rarely done.

The Adobe Theater has assembled a talented cast to bring this play back to life. In a well-designed drawing room set, the cast of twelve meet and greet and revive old acquaintances. Former relationships are revealed as everyone tries to determine who shot John Cristow, a charismatic but narcissistic doctor, played with appropriate verve by Matthew Van Wettering. He's a bit of a cad, and we know it the minute he steps onto stage.

The manor house hosts are Lord and Lady Angkatell, played by veteran actors Douglas Vandewinckel and Lorri Layle Oliver. Mr. Vandewinckel brings a wealth of experience in theatre to his work in Albuquerque. Ms. Oliver is a well-known scene stealer whose diction and enunciation are a pleasure to hear.

One of the great things about this play is that everyone in the cast, down to the servants, has at least one scene in which they shine. Young actresses Clair Gardner, Kristine Padilla, Nicee Wagner, and Devoney Wilhite are all excellent. Ms. Wilhite is able to make a dramatic change later in the play, which is shockingly believable. They each handle long and complicated monologues well. Given the length of the play, for today's audiences, some judicious cuts in the script would have been welcome.

Tyler Alan Strand, playing the butler Gudgeon, is another veteran actor who helps move the play along. He and Emily Cox, as the new maid Doris, provide some lighter moments. Ed Benson as the young man searching for love is appropriately heartbreaking. Michael Weppler is excellent as Police Inspector Colquhoun and is given great comic support by Echo Dobie as Sergeant Penny.

The costumes for all the players are inventive if not quite in period. I wish that all the costumes had been tailored to fit them, and they could have used a professional ironing and cleaning. This kind of work is labor intensive and usually left to volunteers, but it is very important for the professional look of any production. Aristocratic British people dress well and their clothes fit.

The Adobe Theater presents an ambitious season every year. Next season ten productions are planned. I hope they will take additional time for rehearsal so the pace can be ready on opening night. For this type of drawing room drama to really succeed, it needs to zip along. There is a slight hesitation that additional rehearsal would have eliminated.

Overall, the production is very enjoyable. The Adobe asked the audience to pick the killer at intermission. Only two audience members got it right. They have given us a real Agatha Christie experience.

The Hollow runs through November 5, 2023, at the The Adobe Theater, 9814 4th Street, NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. General admission $24, discounted admission $20, student admission $15. For tickets and information, please visit or call 505-898-9222.

Directed by Pete Parkin, Set Design by Petifoger, Costume Design by Louisa O'Neil. Cast:Nicee Wagner, Douglas Vandewinckel, Lorri Layle Oliver, Kristine Padilla, Tyler Alan Strand, Ed Benson, Emily Cox, Devoney Wilhite, Matthew Van Wettering, Clair Gardner, Michael Weppler, Echo Dobie.