In true Agatha Christie style, A Murder Is Announced is a captivating whodunit tale that will confuse and shock audiences right to the very end. And just when you think you’ve finally figured out who the killer is – bang! The tables are turned. Currently presenting at Sydney Theatre until October 27, has been adapted for the stage by Leslie Darbon with Darren Yap directing a cast comprising Judi Farr, Debra Lawrence, Robert Grubb, Victoria Haralabidou and Deidre Rubenstein.
The residents of the genteel English town of Chipping Cleghorn get their frocks in a flurry when the personals column of the local paper schedules in a murder to occur at 6.30pm at Little Paddocks, the home of Letitia ‘Letty’ Blacklock (Lawrence). When the lights blackout and shots are fired and a murder does actually take place as was scheduled but not necessarily expected, everyone is a suspect. Who put the announcement in the paper? Who oiled the supposedly locked second door into the drawing room? Who locked Mitzi, the Hungarian maid (Haralabidou), in the dining room before the murder? And why is Miss Marple (Farr), the town snoop, conveniently on the scene immediately after the shots are fired?
While the sheer volume of twists and trysts, false identities and hidden agendas that are unravelled by Inspector Craddock (Grubb) are comical and stay true to the murder-mystery genre, the complicated dialogue unfortunately left most cast members tongue-tied on opening night. Nevertheless, with a chorus of unique characters that compliment each other, the night delivered enjoyable confusion and hilarity.
Honourable mentions go to Rubenstein as Letty’s loopy best friend, Bunny; Mitzi, the boisterous yet charming hired help played by Haralabidou, and of course Farr as Miss Marple. Farr manages to retain the inquisitive wit, charm and twinkle in her eye that Agatha Christie fans expect from one of the author’s most loveable characters.
BY HAYLIE PRETORIUS