[stage play:] 'Love from a Stranger' by Agatha Christie & Frank Vosper

TheLastWordTheLastWord United Kingdom
edited June 2018 in Non-series short stories

Just a little head's up re a new adaptation of a Christie play:

I have recently seen a UK touring version of the play 'Love from a Stranger', which was cited in the theatre brochure as being by A.C. & Frank Vosper. I went to see it, intrigued, just because I'd never heard of such an A.C. story or play. It was all a bit of a mystery to me! :-)

Nonetheless, I deliberately didn't read too much into the plot before I went to the event. Much as I do with book blurbs, I only read the first 2 or 3 lines of the venue's leaflet on the production, just so I had an idea as to the gist of the story. Otherwise I think too much is often given away, in these descriptives, to the potential reader/viewer. All I need to know is whether to expect a tragedy or a comedy. It gets one's 'head' in the right place! ,-)

Anyway . . .

Frankly, I didn't hold my breath as to the play's greatness. After all, there must be a reason I had never previously heard of this A.C. play/story. I also feared that the storyline, or the play style, might be a bit dated - depending upon whether it was a new play or old, & if/how it had been updated. And as updating old stories doesn't always work (. . . Sarah Phelps, what are up to?!), that too was a concern. But I hoped it would be an interesting evening, at least. Or, at worst, a novelty.

Fortunately it turned out to be more than just passable. It was a pretty good production, and had a good storyline. Not the best Christie story ever, but well worth watching.

As a play it was well put together, with good staging & excellent casting. There were no famous actors to pull in an audience, which in itself made it feel a little like the old-style theatre days of repertory, which suited the age of the play & the setting of the plot.

The play itself was 'old' enough in style to be believable as a story set in the mid-20th century, but with a certain modern 'zing' that brought it up to date and made it more dynamic. Clever lighting & enigmatic incidental music also helped make it a winning production.

I would recommend the play if the tour passes by your way. (I won't give anything else away re the story, to avoid spoilers!)

It was only after we'd seen it at the theatre that I looked up the A.C. connection to the play, as I was still none the wiser as to the source of the story. (Let alone who Frank Vosper was! ,-) Was he an old playwright, or a new adapter?!)

But nothing could be found at various lists of Christie's writings - e.g. http://www.christiemystery.co.uk/reviews.php#christiebooks.

So then I Wikipedia'd, and there I found the info I needed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_from_a_Stranger):

The play was based on a 1924 short story by A.C. entitled 'Philomel Cottage'. It was adapted into a play - and renamed - by someone called Frank Vosper, in 1936. It was then made into a film! in 1937, in the UK. The film was remade in the US 10 years later, plus it has been adapted into various TV versions.

You learn something new every day! ,-)

I have already found a copy of the short story, that should be winging its way to me in a few days.

So my next step is to see if I can find the films - the 1937 version starred the great Basil Rathbone! - somewhere to hire/buy/view. Perhaps the ever-helpful YouTube will have these oldies uploaded!


  • here is the 1937 version.
  • TheLastWordTheLastWord United Kingdom


    Much thanks for that YouTube link! :-)

    ( P.S.  I know I went 'on' a bit  -  ha-ha! ,-)  -  in my initial post about this play [I await a series of follow-on postings of "'TL;DR" ! ,-) ], but it was such a delight to find an A.C. story I didn't know existed. When my OH told me about the play, having seen several adverts on posters that were apparently all over town, I just had to go & see it! )

    Will have a look at that 1937 UK version of the film, & only later watch the US version of 10 years on. It will be interesting to see if there is much difference in style between the UK & US adaptations, or a pre-War film & one of the post-War years.

  • Lady_LaqLady_Laq Manchester, United Kingdom
    I saw Love From a Stranger a couple of weeks ago. I liked it. I agree with you on the production. Philomel Cottage is one of my favourite short stories by Agatha, I remember how intrigued I was when I first read it. According to the program, Agatha herself adapted the short story to the stage under the title "The Stranger" before Frank Vosper, who built on that (so, noting like Sarah Phelps!)
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