Review: A Murder is Announced

August 24, 2017 by Ray Morgan

Clipped British accents, victory rolls, tots of sherry and a puzzling murder case - it could only be Agatha Christie's Miss Marple! I thoroughly enjoyed the Middle Ground adaptation of 'A Murder is Announced' at the Palace Theatre this week. I took my Mum - lifelong Christie fan and lover of all things crime - and we relished in the sheer drama of it.

The plot is unbeatably intriguing: someone places an ad in the paper, saying a murder will occur in a genteel family home at 6.30pm on a certain date. No-one knows who put it there, or why. A flippant joke or something more sinister? 6.30pm rolls around and sure enough, a corpse is soon on the scene.

It could have been grisly, but the play was less about the murder and more a study in relationships on the theme of "trust no-one". To give it a contemporary comparison, I felt like I was back in Season 1 of The Killing, or 'Forbrydelsen' as I like to dramatically call it, in a questionable accent. It brought us Danish noir before that was even a term! Goodness me I was obsessed with that dark, rain-soaked mystery where a knitted jumper became an iconic symbol. If you've seen the first series, you'll know what I mean when I say you go from scene to scene thinking "Yep, they DEFINITELY did the murder" before going "Nope, nope, I meant THAT guy. He did it. Oh, hang on, wait..." - it messes with your mind.

From a single look, I thought it was for reals the mysterious lodger and horticulturalist named Philippa. She haughtily flounced around the stage in covetable high-waisted trousers throwing cynical little barbs, and I thought: she's the cad. Then I started to wonder about the left-wing intellectual who kept popping round with his mother, proffering jars of honey which seemed odd and suspect. In short, my mind raced trying to figure out whodunit.

That's the joy of Agatha Christie. I've never really been one for reading her books, and I've only seen a couple of adaptations on TV, but I have really, really enjoyed the plays and I think that's the real magic for me. The set design and costumes for this performance were faultless, and the acting was superb.

I'm no Miss Marple, sadly, because I did not see the twist coming. I was floundering around like the detectives who were no match for the eccentric little old lady's super-brain. It was a jolly good yarn, and expertly acted by an effervescent cast. This performance comes highly recommended.

The run is until this Saturday, so if you'd like to catch it, do so quickly!

To grab tickets click here