“Towards Zero”

From left, Thomas Royde (Steven Sarp,) Mr. Treves (Robert Peeples) and Lady Tressilian (Jana Grubbs Derry) in the sitting room of Gull’s Point.

“Towards Zero” Director Aprille Meek came into the Clear Creek Community Theatre as a general mystery lover. But after directing nine Agatha Christie plays for the theater’s stage, Meek proudly proclaims that she is Agatha obsessed.

“Towards Zero” opens tonight at the Clear Creek Community Theatre, 18091 Upper Bay Rd., in Nassau Bay, and runs through Jan. 31. “Towards Zero” was originally published as a novel by Christie in 1944. Christie developed the novel into a play in 1956.

Christie is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, and “Towards Zero” is one of her finest stories, according to her website. Reviews in literary magazines were extremely positive. Meek suggests even those who like mysteries, but think they don’t like Christie’s works, will be impressed by this show.

“A good mystery is a great thing. It’s looking at the characters. There’s so much that happens in this show, and I think it’s really highly entertaining,” she said.

“Towards Zero” puts audiences in Lady Tressilian’s seaside home, Gull’s Point. Janna Grubbs Derry carries this character well. “Towards Zero” is a British show, and Derry is poised in a way that commands respect while also being absolutely terrifying. She chides characters in a tone that sounds elegant, to the point where she has to proclaim, “Stop grinning at me like I’m praising you.”

Tressilian, a widow in her 70s, is joined at her home by her assistant Mary Aldrin (Kelly West), old suitor and friend Mr. Treves (Robert Peeples) and Thomas Royde (Steven Sarp.)

The hostess informs her guests of the latest gossip, that Tressilian’s deceased husband’s ward, Nevile Strange (Matthew Schell,) has brought not only his new wife Kay (Alayne Johnson) but also his ex-wife Audrey (Jean Ciampi) on holiday to Gull’s Point.

The love triangle — that actually turns out to be more of a love pentagon — between the Stranges is enough to be a play all it’s own. During the first act, the drama among the lovers comes to a head.

I can see why some mystery lovers snub their noses at “Towards Zero.” The show is very British, and in this case that means dry humor with lots and lots of dialogue. At first, it can be tough to keep all of the characters straight. But as the characters develop, interesting pairs are revealed.

There was a conversation between old Mr. Treves and Audrey that I found particularly wonderful and interesting.

Walking into a show and knowing it’s a murder mystery almost always leaves the audience hanging on every word, trying to figure out whodunnit before it is revealed on stage.

When Mr. Treves and Audrey are alone to converse and the dialogue unfolds, my hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

Nevile insists bringing both his current and ex-wife to Gull’s Point was for the purpose of them becoming friends, and that it was all his idea. But as the show goes on, Kay becomes jealous of her husband’s ex. It starts to seem like maybe Audrey has somehow created and manipulated the situation to her advantage.

It isn’t until half way through the show that a murder even occurs, so I won’t spoil anything else about the story.

This story outsmarted me, and I couldn’t hope for anything more in a murder mystery. The British humor is dry and on point.

Make sure to check out “Towards Zero” at Clear Creek Community Theatre opening tonight and running through Jan. 31.

For more information, visit www.clearcreekcommunitytheatre.com.

Contact Features Editor Kaitlin Schmidt at 409-683-​5236 or kaitlin.schmidt@galvnews.com.

Creative Services designer and former Features Editor for The Daily News.

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