Like any mystery novel or play, there’s a danger in spending too much time explaining much about it. And this one is little different. On the one hand this is a quite successful and brilliant play in a lot of ways. It not only creates an effective and engaging dramatic scene, but it also completely complicates and subverts a lot of the same tropes and conventions it relies on to tell the story.
It’s a lot like Clue and The Mousetrap in this way, and of course this one came first.
In addition, this story reminds me a lot of GK Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, in that it’s a spy book about spy books, but it’s also a lot more to boot.
So what we have here is a kind of failure to articulate. The play begins in a living room at a high brow/high class estate. We meet a family, as always headed up by a colonel, and we meet the young man they are positioning to marry their daughter. A familiar scene. From there, an inspector calls on the house to explain that a young woman in town has killed herself and there’s a connection to the family. I feel like I can’t really tell you more than that however. I can also imagine the ways in which this story might unfold in front of us in a theater, and not knowing what’s to come there’s a clear narrative tension that builds and builds toward the conclusion. And I would also argue that a reread or a viewing after reading also allows for the rich layering of the story to be charted from the beginning.