Agatha Christie's Plays: Ten Facts
1. Agatha Christie is the only writer famed for both crime novels and plays. She wrote roughly five dozen crime novels and two dozen plays.
2. She had three plays running simultaneously in London theaters in 1954: The Mousetrap, Witness for the Prosecution and Spider’s Web. No other female playwright can claim that and few males can, aside from Shakespeare and Shaw. Those are her longest-running plays.
3. Christie wrote three great stage mysteries: Witness for the Prosecution, And Then There Were None, and The Mousetrap. No one else has written more than one, according to Ira Levin, the author of one of them: Deathtrap.
4. The Mousetrap is the longest running play in the world. It debuted in 1952. In the last 68 years, 20 million people have seen the play in London.
5. Her first original play was produced in 1930. Black Coffee, the only play she wrote with Poirot in it, was novelized by Charles Osborne in 2000. He also adapted her second longest-running play into a novel: Spider's Web.
6. Christie disliked stage adaptations of her novels by other writers because they stuck too closely to the original plot. So she wrote her own. She removed Poirot from her own adaptations of the books in which he appeared because he used up too much stage oxygen.
7. She changed the endings of some novels for the stage. When she adapted And Then There Were None, she gave it an upbeat ending, fearing theater audiences would find the original story too bleak. She modified Appointment with Death, choosing a different murderer for the play than in the book.
8. She wrote a script of Dickens’s Bleak House in 1962 under contract with MGM, which paid her for it. The script was never used for a film.
9. Christie enjoyed writing plays more than novels. She once wrote, “I find that writing plays is much more fun than writing books." With plays she could avoid writing long descriptions of places and people. Of her own work, her favorite play was Witness for the Prosecution.
10. On the day she died, London’s West End theaters dimmed their lights for one hour.
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