Review: A Murder Is Announced

Sarah Thomas and Judy Cornwall in A Murder is Announced. Picture: contributed
Sarah Thomas and Judy Cornwall in A Murder is Announced. Picture: contributed
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EVERYONE’S favourite amateur sleuth is back and this time she’s got an even bigger ball of wool to knit.

* * * *

King’s Theatre, Leven Street

Set in cosy, rural England, a large group of well-to-do types with too much free time on their hands have gathered at the Victorian house of Letitia Blacklock (Diane Fletcher) for a wee drink.

But wait. Who turned out the lights? Is that a gun? Bang! Someone’s dead. Oh, well. Better send in Miss Marple to tell the police who the murderer is.

Sound like a typical Agatha Christie story? The difference is, Middle Ground Theatre Company’s adaptation of the classic crime novel demands extra special attention to the text.

Miss a line, and you’ll have as many questions as Inspector Craddock. Blacklock’s past is under the microscope, and with a family-tree full of incidental off-stage characters intertwining with an on stage cast of 12, it’s just as well Miss Marple (Judy Cornwell), is as sharp as one of her knitting needles.

Sadly, it was a bit difficult to make out what the soft-spoken Cornwell says much of the time. Thankfully, she made up for it in the latter stages, most noticeably during a tense (much louder) ding-dong of words with Fletcher. Indeed, seeing these two, old-school actors deliver a lesson in drama is a joy to watch, and arguably the highlight of the show.

Unfortunately, most of the other characters are as wooden. That’s no slight on the actors, but it wouldn’t kill those adapting the piece to inject a bit more of Marple’s wit into their lines.

As you might expect, costumes, lighting and set are in keeping with Christie’s 1950’s drama. While this production might appear old-hat today, it does what it says in the tin and continues to attract an audience.

Miss Marple hasn’t run out of wool yet.

Run ends Saturday