Television adaptations of Agatha Christie whodunnits tend to start gradually, with protracted scene-setting before any blood is shed.

Here, the revolving scenery of The Mirror Crack'd, at Norwich Theatre Royal, had barely stopped spinning before the first murder had been committed.

Indeed, the investigation is already under way by the time the first word of the play is uttered, a very un-Christie-like "bugger" from Miss Marple. 

We find the spinster sleuth, played by Susie Blake, laid up at her home in St Mary Mead with a sprained ankle. 

Fortunately, the action comes to her, with the arrival of her nephew, the bumbling Detective Chief Inspector Craddock (Oliver Boot), who is investigating a murder at the nearby Gossington Hall.

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The property's new owner, Hollywood film star Marina Gregg (Sophie Ward), has thrown a party at which one of her guests, Heather Leigh (Jules Melvin), was poisoned by a strawberry daiquiri. 

As Miss Marple sits on centre stage, the events of the evening are reconstructed around her, including the mysterious moment when Gregg suddenly appears dumbstruck by something, minutes before the murder occurs.

It is this look which gives the play its name - a line from Tennyson's Lady of Shalott about an instant of fateful realisation - and around which the drama revolves.

The action is swift, as the suspects each get their time in the spotlight and clues are thrown out across the stage, for the audience to sift from the red herrings until the killer is revealed.

Fans of Christie will be delighted with this production. It sticks faithfully to the familiar formula, ticking all the whodunnit boxes and in fine style.

Blake is an archetypal Miss Marple, though perhaps a little wittier and more waspish than the original. And more vulnerable too - her backstory has been developed to bring in her own tragedy.

Craddock is also a more rounded character than some of the detective sidekicks of the books and other adaptations.

And towards the end, there is a touching and sombre reflection on the somewhat overlooked character right at the heart of the drama: the victim herself.

But there are plenty of laughs too, particularly from scene-stealer Veronica Roberts as Miss Marple's friend and the former owner of Gossington Hall, Dolly Bantry.


The Mirror Crack'd continues at the Theatre Royal until November 12. For more information, contact 01603 630000 or visit