The Unexpected Guest is an unexpected play, mostly due to the fact that it is one of the lesser known stories in the Christie oeuvre, which makes the imaginative ending all the more enjoyable.

Set entirely in the residence of Richard and Laura Warwick (Alexandra Kelly), a lone traveller stumbles in after a car accident and finds the master of the home slumped over, the fatal victim of a gunshot. His wife stands holding the gun, but unexpected guest Michael Starkwedder (Harry Taylor) believes her to be innocent. She is attractive, ergo cannot possibly be capable of evil.

The ensuing drama reveals that the late Warwick was quite a nasty piece of work, provoking many leads for detectives and Starkwedder, who has the interest of an amateur sleuth. A much younger but mentally diminished brother, a bitter carer, long-suffering domestic help – the list of possibilities is long with the wife the best possible suspect.

The large ensemble have a good deal of fun with this one, though this adaptation does feel on the long side. A few prolonged scenes were dangerously close to becoming tedious. In the second act the pace picked up and the action unfolded nicely. The lack of plausible plot is only mildly annoying initially, when stranger Starkwedder is determined to help the new widow by casting suspicion on to another. Again, she is attractive so presumably he cannot see her wrongfully convicted.

Highlights? Peter David Allison as Henry Angell is a gem giving a brilliant turn as a manipulative caregiver. His future is precarious with Warwick dead, so he coolly over-plays his hand, with amusing results. Ravel Balkus as young Jan Warwick is another stand-out bringing a devious and naive aspect to his character, coupled with great energy. Richard Cotter and Patrick Gallagher as police investigating cue laughs, the investigations revealing more and more curious revelations about the victim.

The wit in the play is mostly low-key, but listen carefully, as the zingers embedded in the dialogue are worth it. Director Jess David has produced a fine show with this one, where suspicions and motive are rife, which makes the guessing game all the more fun.


The Unexpected Guest is presented by arrangement with Origin Theatrical on behalf of Samuel French Ltd and is on until 1 September, for more information and tickets see:

Featuring: Harry Taylor, Alexandra Kelly, Anna Desjardins, Ravel Balkus, Tricia Youlden, Peter David Allison, Richard Cotter and Thomas Southwell and Patrick Gallagher.

Creative/tech team: Jess Davis (director), Sandra Bass (assistant director), Debbie Smith (set design), Susan Carveth (costume design), Michael Schell (lighting and sound design).

This Month in Sydney

18 Oct - 4 Nov
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Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, the world’s largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year, returning to the spectacular Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk from 18 October – 4 November.

The iconic exhibition will see the coastline transformed into a two kilometre long sculpture park over three weeks featuring 100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world.

Aqualand proudly returns for its third year as Principal Sponsor, along with the prestigious Aqualand Sculpture Award, which has increased to AUD70,000 in 2018 and will be awarded to an exhibiting artist whose sculpture will be gifted for permanent public enjoyment in Sydney.

In 2017, Aqualand’s sponsorship was renewed for an additional five years and is the most significant in the exhibition’s history, continuing to support the growth of the iconic Bondi exhibition.

As one of Sydney’s most beloved and photographed events, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi attracts over 500,000 visitors over the course of 18 days and signals the beginning of summer in Sydney.