This week, Wales Millennium Centre and Wiltshire Creative first ever UK stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s much-loved Miss Marple thriller The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side comes to Cardiff’s New Theatre.
The iconic Marple mystery from the world’s best-selling author of all time is adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff and directed by Melly Still and features a cavalcade of stage and screen stars including Simon Shepherd, Colin R Campbell, Suzanna Hamilton, Julia Hills, Katherine Manners and Susie Blake as Miss Marple.
Also starring is Joe Dixon, an actor known for his work on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company in productions such as A Midsummer Nights Dream and The Malcontent as well as screen and TV roles in The Mummy Returns, Doctor Who and Criminal Justice. Appearing in an Agatha Christie drama is a new challenge for Joe, who hails from Birmingham.
“It’s not the sort of play I’d normally do to be honest and that’s what attracted me to it,” Joe tells Andy Howells, “I’ve spent a lot of time with the RSC doing plays that are either written by Shakespeare or ancient Greek folk. It just appealed to me to have the opportunity to work with Melly , who I’d heard a lot about and admired her work, while doing something more contemporary and fun.”
In The Mirror Crack’d, Joe plays the role of Jason Rudd, a Hollywood film Director, who along with his wife, the actress, Marina Gregg arrive in a sleepy village to make a film. However in traditional Agatha Christie style, people start dying in the process.
“Its very different from the film and the book,” continues Joe, “When people start watching it they will be instantly confused, but once they’ve got past that momentary disorientation, I think they’ll enjoy it. The audiences have loved it, because it’s not what anybody expects which is always a good thing in the theatre.”
“The Agatha Christie estate have been very involved in the writing process as well as supportive in the production. It’s fun and Melly brings her own skillset to the production which makes it quite dazzling to watch in terms of the choreography and movement to the story and how the characters develop.”
Joe first got the acting bug at school before being encouraged by his teachers to join Birmingham Youth Theatre.
“I performed at the Birmingham Rep and was reviewed nationally. It was an amazing company to work for and a lot of actors have come through the Birmingham Youth Theatre. Until that point, I didn’t know how actors happened to be and didn’t think it was something in my sphere of possibility and then it was.
“I was going to go to a university that had a good drama faculty and then I decided to go to drama school and took a year out and went to RADA.”
Subsequently, Joe joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and has regularly appeared in their productions over the last two decades. He was recently invited to Buckingham Palace to revive the character of Bottom for a special presentation of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream for Prince Charles birthday alongside Dame Judi Dench as Titania.
“Every time Gregory Doran phones me up and asks how I feel about playing a particular role its food for thought. I mean How amazing! I’ve had a long and wonderful relationship with the Royal Shakespeare Company and I’m still very at home there.”
“My remit for every job really is will it be a challenge? Is it going to take me somewhere I’ve not been before? Is it going to be exciting? Can I do it well? The RSC tends to tick all those boxes on a regular basis for me! However, it’s good to move away and do a couple of seasons exploring other avenues and that was so nice about this opportunity when I was asked to The Mirror Crack’d.”
From time to time, Joe has made the occasional appearance on film and television, however one of his most enduring television roles in peoples memories has perhaps been one of his briefest, when he appeared as a Time Lord in David Tennant’s Doctor Who finale back in 2010.
“I was working with David at the RSC and was asked to do his final farewell Christmas Special and I had the honour of been a Time Lord which was great. Doctor Who followers are so extraordinarily loyal. This the first show that I’ve done where there hasn’t been a gang of Doctor Who people waiting for me to sign various pictures and stuff.”
“On the Doctor Who website I have a different birthday to my actual one and over the years I’ve given up trying to explain to people that the one displayed is not actually my birthday. I just take the well-wishes gratefully and graciously!”
Presently, Joe is relishing his current role as early 1960s Film Director, Jason Rudd in The Mirror Crack’d, but he’s remaining tight-lipped about the outcome of the murder mystery which reaches Cardiff’s New Theatre this week.
“It’s a wonderful story. It’s a whodunnit and who doesn’t like a whodunnit? We had a post-show discussion a few days ago and I asked the audience, “Hands up who thought they knew whodunnit at the interval” and almost everybody in the company was a suspect for different groups of the audience.”
“Rachel Wagstaff has done a wonderful adaptation and you can feel the audience thinking, “Is it him? Is it her?” Then something happens and they change their mind! What’s wonderful about this particular production is you see the first murder-scene acted from different people’s perspectives which I think is wonderful and that’s very thrilling for the audience. Its not until the last scene they get the full picture.
“It’s skilfully performed, a wonderful cast and a fun show to watch. There’s a lot to delight at and a lot of humour as well”
The Mirror Crack’d plays Cardiff’s New Theatre from March 26 to April 6, 2019.
Call 029 2087 8889 or visit http://www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk for ticket details.