REVIEW: Agatha Christie’s ‘A Murder is Announced’

The great thing about Agatha Christie is that she was so darn prolific, penning some 80 crime novels, that even if you’ve read the book, the chances are that, by the time you see it on stage or screen, you’ve forgotten whodunnit.

And you probably won’t work it out either because the plot twists are usually pretty preposterous.

Which means that the narrative in any production drives itself without need for any trendy reinterpretations or special effects.

So, a straight re-telling is what you get at the Floral’s A Murder is Announced. It’s a slightly pared-down story with a slightly smaller cast but it’s otherwise exactly what you’d expect.

An advertisement in the personal column of the local newspaper announces that a murder will occur on Friday 13th October at 6.30pm at Little Paddocks. The lady of the house insists it must be a joke but half the village, including Miss Marple, duly turn up to see what all the fuss is about. And lo and behold – bang, bang, … bang.

Observing the Classical Unities, all the action takes place in one location and within 24 hours. This makes for very easy staging and, although the curtain comes down between scenes to mark the passage of time, the 1950s setting doesn’t change at all, barring some important prop swapping that would leave you none the wiser even if I told you about it.

Set firmly in a post-WW2 world of servants and afternoon tea, in a close-knit village community that I can’t believe exists anywhere outside of fiction these days, Middle Ground Theatre Company are wise not try and update things.

We particularly enjoyed the costume and the clipped accents of Will Huntington and Lucy Evans. Karen Drury’s slightly dotty Bunny and Barbara Wilshere’s Letty are solid performances, whilst Lydia Piechowiak plays the ridiculous Mitzi for laughs.

We didn’t, though, know what to make of Tom Butcher’s Inspector Craddock nor Sarah Thomas’ Miss Marple: the former seeming not quite incompetent enough and the latter not quite shrewd enough. But an enjoyable evening nonetheless.

Tues 15th – Sat 19th March  – Floral Pavilion New Brighton

Tues 29th March – Sat 2nd April – Assembley Rooms, Tunbridge Wells

Mon 4th – Sat 9th April – The Octagon, Yeovil

Mon 25th – Sat 30th April – New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

Tues 3rd – Sat 7th May – Kings Theatre, Edinburgh

Tues 10th – Sat 14th May – Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Tues 24th – Sat 28th May – Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

Tues 31st May – Sat 4th June – Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Tues 14th – Sat 18th June – Malvern Theatres

Tues 21st – Sat 25th June – New Victoria Theatre, Woking

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