Left – Zoe Dibb and Lindsay Dunn
A Murder Is Announced begins as the title suggests – an announcement appears in the morning paper publicising that a murder will take place, with the precise particulars of where and when. There is a shooting, and a death, and Agatha Christie’s sleuthing septuagenarian, Miss Marple, is on hand to solve the mystery.
Is there anything quite like a drawing room murder-mystery for bringing out the proletarian detective in us all?
Burgeoning gumshoes will have difficulty discerning the killer among the line of suspects in Therry’s production at the Arts Theatre.
Agatha Christie’s, A Murder Is Announced isn’t the simplest story to chart. But a solid company of players, with consummate performances, and a passable set make it a play well-worth watching. Naturally, recreating Miss Marple can make or break a production but thankfully Anna Pike does extremely well as the mild-mannered spinster and crime-solving busybody.
When the residents of the small English village, Chipping Cleghorn, read an advertisement in the morning newspaper they are astonished. The strange notice reads: "a murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks, at 6:30 p.m. Friends accept this, the only intimation." The owner of Little Paddocks Letitia Blacklock (Nikki Fort) is bemused as are her house guests; Bunny (Jude Brennan), Julia Simmons (Laura Antoniazzi) and her brother Patrick Simmons (Wesley Van Gelderen). All are convinced it is a hoax but the housemaid Mitzi (Zoe Dibb) is certain that the secret police are coming to kill her.
Unable to resist the mystery, certain villagers arrive at the house just before the deadline. At the stroke of 6:30, the lights are extinguished and a man with a flashlight enters the room. Shots are fired, Miss Blacklock’s ear is bleeding, and the intruder has been shot dead. Enter Inspector Craddock (Lindsay Dunn) and the methodical Miss Marple. The investigation is a classic whodunit.
However, it’s the lady of house, Miss Blacklock, that glues the performance together and Fort should be applauded for stepping into the role at at week’s notice and performing admirably. Fine support is delivered by Brennan, Dibb and Antoniazzi in particular but each cast member deserves the plaudits.
Overall, the play does enough to entrain with its crime and detection story, but it also benefits from the lovely chemistry of its talented actors.
The Therry Dramatic Society presents
A Murder Is Announced
by Agatha Christie
Director Ian Rigney
Venue: Arts Theatre
Dates: 5 – 14 Nov 2015