The residents of Chipping Cleghorn are astonished to read an advert in the local newspaper that a murder will take place this coming Friday at Little Paddocks, the home of Letitia Blacklock.Unable to resist, the group gather at the house at the appointed time, when the lights go out and a gun is fired. Enter Miss Marple, who must unravel a complex mystery to solve the identity of the killer…
Agatha Christie's novel is the basis for this stage play. The action all takes place in the living room of Little Paddocks, the scene of the murder. The play is very dialogue heavy but the wit and humour contained in the dialogue drives the action fantastically forward. From the verbal interactions between the characters the audience slowly are fed the clues to decide who finally did it. It’s this combination of humour and intrigue that made the evening a fun one. The audience that was around me muttering and pointing out clues to each other. The experience was very immersive and the sedentary nature of the performance helped this. As an audience member you were in the room with the suspects trying to work out who the killer was.
The music between the scenes is used well to set each scene and as an audience member you are transported to the 1950s when the novel was written and when the play is set. The fact it was nearly always “turned on” by the characters on stage again meant that you were never jolted from the performance but always involved.
The cast was excellent and worked together as a real ensemble group, every one giving stellar performances and subtle hints at the real motives of the characters. Sarah Thomas as the iconic Miss Marple brought a wit and warmth to the role. It was interesting to see her spin on such a well known character. She made the character her own through interweaving a clear intelligence and sharp humour with a sense of always watching everything around her. It was the wonderful looks that Sarah Thomas used that always had me drawn to watching her. She used penetrating stares that helped me as an audience member understand where the clues were taking me.
Jenny Funnell as “Bunny” was superb. The nuances of the character wonderfully portrayed through pulling at her top and clutching her hands to her face. The rhythm of her speech reflecting the true neurosis of the character and what could ultimately lead to her demise. Jenny Funnell should be applauded as she made what could be a very annoying character a lot of fun and a character you genuinely cared for.
Heavy comedic relief could be found in the character of Mitzi, an eastern European maid who spins tall tales and has an over the top fear of the police. Her characters interesting accent and fabulous one-liners lead her to be an audience favourite, sprinkling comedy and some key information whenever she was on stage.
A Murder Is Announced is a great way to spen a few hours of an evening. It was an immersive production and I was enthralled throughout. I saw a few red herrings and got stung by others but it was a great evening to pit my wits against one of the greatest ever crime writers!
Its definitely worth a visit to see the show. All in all a fun and intelligent piece that turns the audience into detectives.
Reviewer - Francesca Eager
on - 14/10/19