Local newspaper family announcements, births, marriages, deaths . . . and forthcoming murders!

A Murder is Announced

Malvern Theatres


A Murder is Announced is classic Agatha Christie – a novel she wrote in the aftermath of the Second World War and published in 1950.

The story is set in the village of Chipping Cleghorn which has been transformed by the war – it is no longer a close-knit community where everybody knows everybody else and their business. It has absorbed refugees from all over the place and the characters do not really know one another.

Now ‘troops returning after years away, deserters roaming the countryside, refugees, rationing, shortages and the shrinking of empire’ have changed the village. The household at Little Paddocks, the scene of the murder, is full of refugees; full of characters who scarcely know each other and whose identities are obscured.

The context of the murder is almost comic: in the personal column of the local publication, it is announced that a murder will occur at Little Paddocks at 6.30 pm on Friday 13th! Is it a joke? Is it an invitation to a game? Intrigued, many locals want to find excuses to attend and join the household.

It is no surprise that there is a sudden blackout, a murder occurs and the mystery is presented. The inevitable police Inspector embarks on his investigation, but it is Miss Marple, who happens to be on hand, who helps solve the puzzle.

Typically the clues are subtly concealed in the dialogue and the set. False trails are presented by the author and the complications of the characters, present and distant, leave all the audience baffled and misled until the real culprit is revealed. The characters are superficial and eccentric: as an audience we do not identify with any of them; we are merely left to intellectually wrestle with the data and try to identify the felon.

Michael Lundy has designed a naturalistic and pleasing set. The excellent cast provide a spread of eccentric characters. Amongst these Barbara Wilshere as (Letitia Blacklock) is the outstanding and dominant individual whose presence and force provides the impetus to the story. Tom Butcher as Inspector Craddock likewise provides a strong performance. Sarah Thomas plays Miss Marple whose genius is not so strongly presented as the heroine; she collaborates with the Inspector to reach the ultimate resolution

The pace of the dialogue and complexity of the characters, those referred to as well as present, make it difficult for the audience to keep pace with the narrative at times, and certainly to spot the denouement. Visually this is a delightful show there are many comically effective lines and characters. As with any Agatha Christie story, you would be clever to guess who the criminal was and  solve the crime before the end of the show!

Tim Crow


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