WRITTEN by Philip Meeks, this unusual and ultimately compelling new play tells the story of the strange relationship between Agatha Christie and Margaret Rutherford, two of Britain’s most creative storytellers.

Christie, the wonderful crime writer, apparently didn’t want her heroine Miss Marple to be played on screen by the famous actress Rutherford, who didn’t want to upset her own fans by the sordid idea of murder.

But both women have deep terrible secrets ... Rutherford through her early life and parental troubles, and Christie through her infamous 11-day disappearance in 1926.

Three superb actors deliver the drama – Kate Brown utterly mesmeric as crime-writer genius Agatha Christie “constantly looking for stories”, Sarah Parks as understandably prickly Margaret Rutherford, and Tina Gray as Miss Marple and other realistic roles.

Set in the early 1960s, costumes, wigs, and language idiosyncrasies are completely convincing.

The atmospheric stage set is “undressed” at the start of the play, and symmetrically “dressed” again at the end – creative and satisfying.

The pace is a little pedestrian in Act One, but picks up speed after the interval before hurtling towards its compelling conclusion.

If you’re not familiar with these people and their interlinked stories, your enjoyment of this terrific and unusual production will be enhanced by reading the always fascinating Salisbury Playhouse theatre programme – on sale in the foyer (at £3.50) and essential reading.

Murder, Margaret and Me runs until February 24, matinees Thursdays and Saturdays.

Brendan McCusker