They’re nothing like as well known as Agatha Christie’s legendary Poirot, or old-world Miss Marple. But across her writing career, long-term Oxfordshire resident Christie also penned five thrillers featuring young amateur sleuths Tommy and Tuppence. Nearly a century after its original publication, the first Tommy and Tuppence book, The Secret Adversary, has been dusted off, and is being given its world stage premiere by the Newbury Watermill.

Tommy and Tuppence might sound like the names of a couple of Dickensian urchins, but that isn’t the case at all — Tommy has recently emerged from a public school, and Tuppence is a sparky clergyman’s daughter. In best Christie fashion, the pair become embroiled in an international plot to steal some highly sensitive documents. The identity of Mr (or maybe it’s Miss) Master Criminal is none too difficult to deduce, but of course Christie throws in lots of possible red herrings along the way. Who is Jane Fish, for instance, and does the mysterious Mr Brown really exist?

Christie sets her story just after the First World War, and raises some serious issues: the General Strike already looms, and revolution is in the air. But there’s no denying that her plotline is somewhat clunky, so wisely stage adapters Sarah Punshon (who also directs) and Johann Hari have gone for a tongue-in-cheek approach. The Watermill’s tradition of using actor-musicians has also been invoked, and the action scenes are interspersed with expertly performed song-and-dance numbers.

The seven-strong cast revel in every challenge presented to them, and transmit much energy and humour. In the lead, Garmon Rhys (only recently out of drama school) makes a strong impression as Tommy, while Emerald O’Hanrahan (she plays Emma Grundy in The Archers) fizzes as Tuppence. Serious drama this production is not, but it’s certainly fun entertainment.

Secret Adversaries
Watermill, Newbury
Until March 21
Tickets: 01635 46044