Where is Mrs Christie?/Swan Theatre, Worcester

FOR someone so acutely attuned to the human condition, the greatest thriller writer of all time certainly displayed an astonishing naivety as far as the Press were concerned.

Agatha Christie vanished for 11 days in December, 1926. She was hurt, angry and quite obviously worn out by husband Archie’s philandering. So she storms off, dumps her car near water-filled quarries and catches the next train to Yorkshire, where she spends nearly two weeks pampering herself in a health spa.

But after a nationwide police hunt, she is finally run to earth with the Press Corps yapping at her heels. It is then that she seems to have gone into self-pitying mode, despite the fact that thanks to all the publicity, her books are going viral.

Chris Jaeger’s roller-coaster account of the mysterious disappearance of the high priestess of mystery is a gripping piece of theatre, with Liz Grand bringing his words to life with a stunning portrayal of a woman who, for once, seems to have temporarily lost the plot.

But the questions remain. How come this Press-hating writer didn’t anticipate the media scrum her absence would provoke? Such is her vitriol with regard to this that she almost anticipates the rise of the present-day luvvie whingers who routinely throw the toys out the pram when things don’t go their way.

Everything’s fine when monstrous egos are being massaged but it’s soon tantrum time when the headlines are less than favourable.

Christie was an unashamedly formulaic writer, ironically not a million miles away style-wise from those much-despised boys and girls of Grub Street.

And Liz Grand excels at the finger-wagging sermonising, strutting the moral high ground, while oblivious to the real world existing outside the cosy plots of her books.

Jaeger may not completely have got to the bottom of what was perhaps the greatest mystery story of all, but when it comes to truth being stranger than fiction, this one-woman show is a thriller all in itself. It runs until Saturday (September 23).

John Phillpott