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Agatha Christie is revered around the world for her books and the indelible characters she created. Lesser known is her writing for the stage—an extraordinary repertoire of plays that firmly established her as the most successful female dramatist of all time. Now author Julius Green raises the curtain on Christie’s towering contribution to popular theatre, an element of he Agatha Christie is revered around the world for her books and the indelible characters she created. Lesser known is her writing for the stage—an extraordinary repertoire of plays that firmly established her as the most successful female dramatist of all time. Now author Julius Green raises the curtain on Christie’s towering contribution to popular theatre, an element of her work previously disregarded by biographers and historians. Starting with her childhood theatregoing experiences, Curtain Up uncovers Christie’s first serious attempts at playwriting, with scripts that reveal a very different style from the now familiar whodunits for which she became famous. Later in her life, she enjoyed enormous global success with her work for the stage, but her record-breaking achievements in the West End and her conquest of Broadway came at a price: she had to fight against her own fame and felt obliged to delete her adored character Hercule Poirot from stories that had originally been created around him. Green’s revelations about Christie’s passion for the theatre are illustrated with copious extracts from hitherto unknown plays and unpublished private letters, many of which he discovered in archives on both sides of the Atlantic. The illuminating exchanges between Christie, her agents and producers include extensive correspondence with the legendary ‘Mousetrap Man’, theatrical impresario Sir Peter Saunders. Meticulously researched and filled with groundbreaking discoveries, Curtain Up sheds new light on Agatha Christie’s artistry and adds a fascinating layer to her remarkable story.


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Agatha Christie is revered around the world for her books and the indelible characters she created. Lesser known is her writing for the stage—an extraordinary repertoire of plays that firmly established her as the most successful female dramatist of all time. Now author Julius Green raises the curtain on Christie’s towering contribution to popular theatre, an element of he Agatha Christie is revered around the world for her books and the indelible characters she created. Lesser known is her writing for the stage—an extraordinary repertoire of plays that firmly established her as the most successful female dramatist of all time. Now author Julius Green raises the curtain on Christie’s towering contribution to popular theatre, an element of her work previously disregarded by biographers and historians. Starting with her childhood theatregoing experiences, Curtain Up uncovers Christie’s first serious attempts at playwriting, with scripts that reveal a very different style from the now familiar whodunits for which she became famous. Later in her life, she enjoyed enormous global success with her work for the stage, but her record-breaking achievements in the West End and her conquest of Broadway came at a price: she had to fight against her own fame and felt obliged to delete her adored character Hercule Poirot from stories that had originally been created around him. Green’s revelations about Christie’s passion for the theatre are illustrated with copious extracts from hitherto unknown plays and unpublished private letters, many of which he discovered in archives on both sides of the Atlantic. The illuminating exchanges between Christie, her agents and producers include extensive correspondence with the legendary ‘Mousetrap Man’, theatrical impresario Sir Peter Saunders. Meticulously researched and filled with groundbreaking discoveries, Curtain Up sheds new light on Agatha Christie’s artistry and adds a fascinating layer to her remarkable story.

30 review for Curtain Up: Agatha Christie: A Life in the Theatre

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Very interesting focus on the playwriting side of Christie's creativity, and her enthusiasm for the theatre. Green is nothing if not detailed, and is strong both on getting facts right and not presuming things where there are no facts available. However, the book is overlong: too much detail at times about financial dealings between the various agents and producers tend to make rather dull reading, and I have to admit I skimmed such sections more than once. And scooting off down side paths to te Very interesting focus on the playwriting side of Christie's creativity, and her enthusiasm for the theatre. Green is nothing if not detailed, and is strong both on getting facts right and not presuming things where there are no facts available. However, the book is overlong: too much detail at times about financial dealings between the various agents and producers tend to make rather dull reading, and I have to admit I skimmed such sections more than once. And scooting off down side paths to tell us about this or that actor and what they'd done is interesting, but sometimes seems like overkill. And repeating himself in a number of places also seemed unnecessary... But the plays themselves are given good coverage, both those that were hits, and those that were not. The plays that were adapted by other authors from Christie's books don't impress Green at all! The book is perhaps intended to be for more than just the Christie fan; it's a coverage of historical documents, and events, and in that regard certainly succeeds. And the Agatha Christie the woman comes across as a surprisingly endearing person, though tough-minded, for all that. Incidentally, I notice that Goodreads suggests recommending this book to people who enjoy biography. I think that's a mistake: this isn't a biography, though obviously there's a great deal about Christie. It's a book about the theatre, and playwriting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sally Sugarman

    This is an extensive and well-detailed account of Agatha Christie’s experience as a playwright. The author uses a range of sources, including not only the Christie archives but the accounts of her work in memoirs from directors and producers who worked with her. He also cites many of the journals and newspapers of the day. The bibliography and source material is extensive which is why such an informative picture of Christie as a playwright emerges. As a successful mystery writer, Christie enjoye This is an extensive and well-detailed account of Agatha Christie’s experience as a playwright. The author uses a range of sources, including not only the Christie archives but the accounts of her work in memoirs from directors and producers who worked with her. He also cites many of the journals and newspapers of the day. The bibliography and source material is extensive which is why such an informative picture of Christie as a playwright emerges. As a successful mystery writer, Christie enjoyed the theatre and when people wanted to adapt her plays she preferred to do it herself. She wrote short stories as well as novels and they all showed her creativity. However, her success in the mystery genre led to her not being appreciated for the type of exploration of character and form that she enjoyed as a playwright. She liked plays because she could focus on character and plot. She also liked collaboration. Some of the limitations of theatre challenged her giving the limitations of set and time. She was the only woman playwright to have three successful plays on the West End in one season. Early in her career she wrote two mysteries a year, but as she grew older, she wrote just one a year so that she should focus on writing plays. The Mousetrap is the longest running play in the history of theatre. She did all of this while she also traveled with her second husband on his archeological digs. What shines through in this account is her hard work, her intelligence, her creativity, her humor and her willingness to work with others. Her long-time producer Peter Saunders had his challenges as well fighting some producers in London and New York who controlled the theatres and productions in monopolistic way. One gets a sense of the complexity of theatre production as well as the uncertainty of how all the elements will work together to produce a success or a failure. Christie was well aware of how casting, directing, as well as the script also depended on what the mood of the audience or the social context of the times affected the fate of a production. Christie was far more daring in what she attempted than she is given credit for in her plays, short stories and novels. The fate of the most successful of genre writers is not to be appreciated for the quality of what has been accomplished because popular culture is frowned upon until it becomes the high culture of subsequent generations.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bret

    This book took me a while to read, but once I got into it, I found it fascinating. I love both Christie, and theater, but was unaware of how much she wrote for the theater, and how varied her successes were. Some of the information presented is dry, (contract and business details) but, paired with painstaking research, lots of nice, intimate details of correspondence, and unreleased treasures like never produced or published plays are detailed. I tag-teamed this book with a hardcover edition of This book took me a while to read, but once I got into it, I found it fascinating. I love both Christie, and theater, but was unaware of how much she wrote for the theater, and how varied her successes were. Some of the information presented is dry, (contract and business details) but, paired with painstaking research, lots of nice, intimate details of correspondence, and unreleased treasures like never produced or published plays are detailed. I tag-teamed this book with a hardcover edition of her plays, and found the behind-the-scenes drama as interesting as what ended up on stage.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    For my full review click on the link below: https://crossexaminingcrime.wordpress... For my full review click on the link below: https://crossexaminingcrime.wordpress...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Today's post is on Curtain Up: Agatha Christie A Life in the Threatre by Julius Green. It is 624 pages long and is published by Harper Collins. The cover is the front of a theatre with the title up in lights. The intended reader is someone who is interested in Agatha Christie, threatre history, and very detailed research. There is no sex, no language, and no violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead. From the back of the book- Agatha Christie is revered around the world for her books and the Today's post is on Curtain Up: Agatha Christie A Life in the Threatre by Julius Green. It is 624 pages long and is published by Harper Collins. The cover is the front of a theatre with the title up in lights. The intended reader is someone who is interested in Agatha Christie, threatre history, and very detailed research. There is no sex, no language, and no violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead. From the back of the book- Agatha Christie is revered around the world for her books and the indelible characters she created. Lesser known is her writing for the stage—an extraordinary repertoire of plays that firmly established her as the most successful female dramatist of all time. Now author Julius Green raises the curtain on Christie’s towering contribution to popular theatre, an element of her work previously disregarded by biographers and historians. Starting with her childhood theatregoing experiences, Curtain Up uncovers Christie’s first serious attempts at playwriting, with scripts that reveal a very different style from the now familiar whodunits for which she became famous. Later in her life, she enjoyed enormous global success with her work for the stage, but her record-breaking achievements in the West End and her conquest of Broadway came at a price: she had to fight against her own fame and felt obliged to delete her adored character Hercule Poirot from stories that had originally been created around him. Green’s revelations about Christie’s passion for the theatre are illustrated with copious extracts from hitherto unknown plays and unpublished private letters, many of which he discovered in archives on both sides of the Atlantic. The illuminating exchanges between Christie, her agents and producers include extensive correspondence with the legendary ‘Mousetrap Man’, theatrical impresario Sir Peter Saunders. Meticulously researched and filled with groundbreaking discoveries, Curtain Up sheds new light on Agatha Christie’s artistry and adds a fascinating layer to her remarkable story. Review- A very interesting and very well research piece of threatre history. Green loves his topic, both of them. He is a Christie fan and a threatre man himself and that comes across in his writing. Green gives many examples of Christie's writing as she grew over the years that she wrote both prose and scripts. With letters from the Christie archive, we get a very personal look into a very private woman. This is not a biography of Agatha Christie's life just her work in the threatre but it is still a very interesting part of her history. At times all the details can get a little overwhelming but I think that it is worth it to see this side of a favorite author. I give this book a Four out of Five stars. I was given this book in exchange for an honest review by HarperCollins.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Dame Agatha Christie (1890--1976) is generally acknowledged as "the Queen of Crime" with her 66 detective novels (and 14 short story collections) selling more than two billion copies, making her the bestselling novelist of all time. A lesser-known aspect of her life is her work as a prolific playwright. Julius Green has rectified this situation with CURTAIN UP, an illuminating and exhaustive 600+ page examination of Christie's thirty plays. Although Christie began writing plays as a teenager, no Dame Agatha Christie (1890--1976) is generally acknowledged as "the Queen of Crime" with her 66 detective novels (and 14 short story collections) selling more than two billion copies, making her the bestselling novelist of all time. A lesser-known aspect of her life is her work as a prolific playwright. Julius Green has rectified this situation with CURTAIN UP, an illuminating and exhaustive 600+ page examination of Christie's thirty plays. Although Christie began writing plays as a teenager, none of her works were staged until she was 40 (a decade after her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles). Her theater career didn't ignite until she was in her 60s, with The Mousetrap in 1952 and Witness for the Prosecution in 1953. (The Mousetrap is still running in London, making it the longest running play in theater history.) Green, founder of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company, that has exclusive rights to Christie's original plays within the UK, is a meticulous historian. He cross-references the "notoriously inaccurate chronology" of Christie's autobiography and her nearly illegible correspondences and notebooks with the papers, memoirs and interviews of contemporaries to follow each play from inception to staging. Green believes Christie got more pleasure writing plays than novels, where she expanded beyond mysteries into comedies and psychological dramas. When she adapted her Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple mysteries into plays, she distanced them from their source by dropping the detectives from the cast. Theatre buffs and Christie fans will delight in this fascinating and well-researched appreciation. Julius Green's fascinating CURTAIN UP offers a surprising new dimension to Agatha Christie--her prolific and successful work as a playwright.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Three stars for me: I'm not that much into the nitty-gritty of contracts and authorship. This was a long, book with a lot of inside baseball about mid-century British West End theatre. Five stars for the theatre scholars: it is precisely the insider-baseball aspect combined with the minutiae of theatre rights and contracts that will make theatre super-nerds the perfect readers for this book. What I will say that was surprising (and both frustrating and very coy) is that Green deliberately avoide Three stars for me: I'm not that much into the nitty-gritty of contracts and authorship. This was a long, book with a lot of inside baseball about mid-century British West End theatre. Five stars for the theatre scholars: it is precisely the insider-baseball aspect combined with the minutiae of theatre rights and contracts that will make theatre super-nerds the perfect readers for this book. What I will say that was surprising (and both frustrating and very coy) is that Green deliberately avoided giving away the endings to Christie's greatest plays: And Then There Were None, The Mousetrap, and Witness for the Prosecution. He wrote around them very obviously. Now, my high school performed Witness my junior year (where the drama teacher swore us all to secrecy) and And Then There Were None for my senior year. So with a little digging in my memory, I could follow the insinuations. However, I haven't read or seen Mousetrap so that was annoying. (Though perhaps I should see if I can lay hands on a copy of the play and just read it). So it is nice he doesn't blow the endings, but it makes the reading a little weird.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Green's thesis is that Christie's plays have always been either overlooked or dissed unfairly. He is at pains to remind us that there are some really bad plays--written by others--based on her books, which sully her playwriting reputation unfairly, because they're described as "agatha christie plays." I am going to see the play billed as "Agatha Christie's Murder on the Nile" in October, so i was particularly interested in his info on that play. it's based on the book, Death on the Nile, of cours Green's thesis is that Christie's plays have always been either overlooked or dissed unfairly. He is at pains to remind us that there are some really bad plays--written by others--based on her books, which sully her playwriting reputation unfairly, because they're described as "agatha christie plays." I am going to see the play billed as "Agatha Christie's Murder on the Nile" in October, so i was particularly interested in his info on that play. it's based on the book, Death on the Nile, of course but in the play she replaces Poirot with an avuncular canon. She also had two alternative endings, and the play wound up being originally produced, in the 1940s, under the title "Hidden Horizon." he also points out that even though A. C. was shy, she loved the camaraderie of the theatre and looked on playwriting as more fun than her "day job" of writing mysteries.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rick Rapp

    Green focuses on a lesser known aspect of Christie's career: her work for the stage. (Very little time is spent on the film adaptations of her works.) This is a fascinating look at the woman herself, her supporters, her detractors, and ultimately the plays that she left behind. Green's research is impeccable and he makes great use of the copious correspondence which Christie both engaged in and kept on file. It's a good read, and for those familiar with her stage work, it furnishes much informat Green focuses on a lesser known aspect of Christie's career: her work for the stage. (Very little time is spent on the film adaptations of her works.) This is a fascinating look at the woman herself, her supporters, her detractors, and ultimately the plays that she left behind. Green's research is impeccable and he makes great use of the copious correspondence which Christie both engaged in and kept on file. It's a good read, and for those familiar with her stage work, it furnishes much information that supports and dispels myths surrounding the woman and her skill. She was far more than a "whodunnit factory."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Well researched. This book will explain not just the plays of Agatha Christie but also the British theatre during the time her plays were performed. I had no idea that a number of plays attributed to Agatha Christie were adaptations of her books by third parties. I had a time wading through this long book (559 pages of text). I wish that the author had stuck more to Agatha Christie without so many diversions to producers, directors, actors, theaters, etc. Still I did learn much about Agatha Chri Well researched. This book will explain not just the plays of Agatha Christie but also the British theatre during the time her plays were performed. I had no idea that a number of plays attributed to Agatha Christie were adaptations of her books by third parties. I had a time wading through this long book (559 pages of text). I wish that the author had stuck more to Agatha Christie without so many diversions to producers, directors, actors, theaters, etc. Still I did learn much about Agatha Christie as playwright.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John

    I was very surprised since this is typically not the type of book that I read as it it longer (600+ pages) than I typically read. Being over 600 pages it took many sittings to read and I have to say it was a pleasure to pick back up each time. Great job! I won this great book on GoodReads and like I do with most my wins I will be paying it forward by giving my win either to a friend or library to enjoy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christine Irvin

    Author Julius Green writes an thorough and interesting (although sometimes a bit dry) account of Agatha Christie's life in the theatre. Even though Christie played a large role (pun intended) in the world of theatre, especially in London's West End, she was known for her murder mystery novels. I learned a lot about Christie's theatrical life from reading this book. Author Julius Green writes an thorough and interesting (although sometimes a bit dry) account of Agatha Christie's life in the theatre. Even though Christie played a large role (pun intended) in the world of theatre, especially in London's West End, she was known for her murder mystery novels. I learned a lot about Christie's theatrical life from reading this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    As a fan of Christie's plays more than her novels, I thought this was a terrific idea for a book, but it's more comprehensive than I really wanted, so I'm giving up after 80 pages. Valuable information, though, for anyone who's interested in details of Christie's career beyond her novels or even 20th-century theatre. As a fan of Christie's plays more than her novels, I thought this was a terrific idea for a book, but it's more comprehensive than I really wanted, so I'm giving up after 80 pages. Valuable information, though, for anyone who's interested in details of Christie's career beyond her novels or even 20th-century theatre.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    This book was given to me for free by the Goodreads FirstReads program. As much as I love Agatha Christie, I just can't bring myself to slog through this book. It's exhaustive, and exhausting to read. This book was given to me for free by the Goodreads FirstReads program. As much as I love Agatha Christie, I just can't bring myself to slog through this book. It's exhaustive, and exhausting to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Book collector

    Fascinating look at Christie on stage. So much information that was new to me. It can be a bit dry to read and it's a substantial tome but it is very detailed and a must for Christie aficionados. Fascinating look at Christie on stage. So much information that was new to me. It can be a bit dry to read and it's a substantial tome but it is very detailed and a must for Christie aficionados.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bookerina Lovington

    This was an interesting read. Highly informative, yet still entertaining - I would definitely recommend it for those interested in theater, Agatha Christie, or non-fiction.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Louise

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bill Pruitt

  21. 4 out of 5

    A. Kelly

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chanah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Linda Hewitt

  24. 5 out of 5

    Caiti

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Labarbiera

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michele

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Mckenzie

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alice Heywood

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maurice Blackburne

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steffi

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