A Murder is Announced

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton


THIS is the 125 anniversary year of Agatha Christie’s birth, and the remarkable crime writer can still attract decent sized audiences to see her cleverly constructed murder mysteries.

Plenty of fans were at the Grand on opening night of the Middle Ground Theatre Company’s version of the rather complicated and at times unbelievable tale which opens with someone at Letitia Blacklock’s comfortable Victorian house in the village of Chipping Cleghorn spotting an unusual advert in the local paper.

It warns that a murder will take place at Letitia’s home at 6.30pm that night – Friday October 13.

Surely a joke, and the group of people who gather there seem remarkable at ease about it…until the lights fuse, gunshots ring out, and sure enough there’s a body on the drawing room floor.

There follows all the usual twists and turns that Christie can imagine, and I kept wondering how this old dear in a floppy brown hat could help the local plod sort it out, especially as veteran actress Judy Cornwell was less than convincing as Miss Marple, the old sleuth.

People in the rear seats must find it difficult to catch all she says, while the opposite is the case with the Little Paddocks refugee cook, Mitzi, played with an irritating, OTT foghorn voice by Lydia Piechowiak.

Top performance comes from Diane Fletcher, owner of Little Paddocks, and Tom Butcher has some amusing moments amid the tension as the local detective, Inspector Craddock, who is clearly much brighter than he sounds. The 12-strong cast received warm applause from the opening night audience.

A well constructed set is perfect for the play which runs to 28.11.15

Paul Marston

Death by Appointment 


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