Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham – until 4 June 2022
Reviewed by Amy Coulson
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay in 1890 and lived an uneventful life. In 1914 she married Archie Christie, a pilot in the First World War. During this time, Agatha became an assistant in a hospital dispensary, and it was here, surrounded by poisons, that she decided to write her first detective story!
A Murder Is Announced, set in the sitting room of a large countryside house, Little Paddocks, Chipping Cleghorn. We are introduced to various residents, including the owner, Letitia Blacklock, played by Barbara Wilshere and her wonderfully innocent seeming old school friend Dora “Bunny” Bunner, played by RADA trained, BAFTA nominated, Karen Drury. They, and Mitzi, (Lydia Piechowiak) the Mitteleupopa refugee, hired cook, and resident, who was hilarious with her one liner (Thank you, you’re welcome!) and attitude, were my favourite characters to watch.
The story: an advert is placed in the local paper; a murder will take place at the house at 6.30pm that evening! The residents are baffled. Is this a joke? Should we lock ourselves away? The reaction to the advert is varied and makes for an entertaining watch as the characters play off one another. Miss Marple (Sarah Thomas), the famous amateur sleuth, visits Letitia and Bunny in light of this announcement and the star of the show gets to work, busy bodying her way around the remainder of the characters and scenes. The official inspector, local policeman Inspector Craddock, played by Tom Butcher, bounces off Marple’s wit wonderfully, and I enjoy watching them. As we find out more about each character, everyone becomes a suspect, which was good fun. I must have changed my opinion half a dozen times, but I did manage to work it out just before the big reveal (promise!).
I always talk about set design. As soon as the curtain goes up, we were immersed in a sitting room, Victorian, I think. Dark wood furniture, green walls, a picture rail with countryside scenes. The set doesn’t change and for a whodunit, it doesn’t need to. Not my style, but totally in keeping with the story and I even found myself looking around for clues.
In summary, if you are looking for a traditional whodunit, that keeps you guessing, A Murder is Announced, is the show for you! Thank you, you’re welcome!