A Murder is Announced Review

A Murder is Announced – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East 



Writer: Agatha Christie
Adaptation: Leslie Darbon
Director: Philip Stewart

Set in 1950, we arrive at the home of Letitia Blacklock (Jo Castleton) on Friday the 13th to the announcement in the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette that “A Murder is Announced”. The murder is due to take place at 6.30pm at Little Paddocks that very evening. Taking care to prepare food for the villagers who are bound to just ‘drop in’, neighbours gather at 6.30pm and the scene is set for the imminent murder.

This should be a wonderful introduction to an ingenious spider’s web of deceit and plot twists. Just when you think you’ve cracked it, there is another startling revelation added to turn the plot on its head. Sadly, explanation too often gets in the way of dramatic tension and there were forced efforts to get through as much dialogue as possible to clarify the narrative.

The subsequent investigation by Inspector Craddock (John Hester) reveals subtle clues and slips of the tongue throughout the performance give hints that should be picked up, if attention is paid to all the dialogue throughout.

There are some horrendous caricatures of 1950’s middle classes, but thankfully some shining stars too. Jane Shakespeare’s glorious overacting as Middle Eastern maid Mitzi was fabulous and Louise Jameson’s interpretation of Jane Marple was interesting, although, it is hard to suspend the disbelief to imagine youthful and glamorous Jameson as an elderly spinster.

Any devotees of Agatha Christies intricately plotted books or the classic BBC adaptations starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple might want to avoid the Civic this week. This version is at best confusing when following the twists and turns of the plot and sadly doesn’t convey this classic Agatha Christie whodunit at its best.