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Alley Theatre's Summer Chills Takes On Agatha Christie's Spider's Web

In an Agatha Christie play, the one thing you can count on, says actor John Tyson, is that everyone, no matter how seemingly lovable, is a potential murder suspect.

Tyson should know because a large part of his acting career, particularly for the Alley Theatre, has been spent acting in or directing a Christie murder-mystery. In the upcoming Alley Summer Chills production of Spider's Web, one of Christie's lesser-known plays, Tyson plays Hugo Birch, a character he describes as someone who loves to play golf and “is not the brightest bulb.” He also likes to eat a lot. 

Birch is one of the guests staying in a house rented by Clarissa Hailsham-Brown, the second wife of a foreign diplomat. Clarissa loves to tell stories to pass the time, but when confronted by a murder in that house, finds reality more complicated than the greatest fictions, especially when her own stepdaughter is implicated in the man's death.

Eleven actors cross the stage – it'll be the first time for an Agatha Christie on the Alley's new thrust stage – in the play set in the late 1940s that runs 2 hours and 40 minutes with two intermissions. Alley Artistic Director Gregory Boyd directs, with Alley company members Jeffrey Bean, Todd Waite and Tyson in prominent roles. The cast also includes Alley veteran Josie de Guzman.

More than just brain twisters, Christie's plays work because, Tyson says: “They've very funny. They've very amusing and they're full of wonderful characters.”

Performances are scheduled for July 14 through August 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26- $69. 

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