Review: A Murder is Announced at Norwich Theatre Royal
- Credit: supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal
When it comes to Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, are you a Margaret Rutherford fan, or does it have to be Joan Hickson or perhaps Geraldine McEwan?
The role call of performers who have made this part their own is formidable to say the least.
And now there's a new actress to claim your top billing. Norwich Theatre Theatre Royal brings us Middle Ground Theatre Company's production of A Murder Is Announced with Louise Jameson in the lead. The actress is known for her many television appearances, including Bergerac's sassy girlfriend in the hit eighties series. She might not seem a natural fit for Christie's beloved spinster, but it works.
Her interpretation of the fiercesomely gifted amateur detective brings us a good natured buffoon in the Rutherford vein, whose keen wit lies concealed beneath bonhomie and chatter.
When the residents of Chipping Cleghorn receive an announcement of a murder, they cannot believe that somebody really means business.
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'Nothing happens here, it's another world', quips Lucy Evans as dashing young Julia Simmons.
Her nonchalance sounds hollow and is, of course, misplaced. Before the curtain falls for a second time, there's blood on the stage, a bullet in the wall, and Miss Marple is entering through the side door.
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Leslie Darbon's cleverly adapted script is a great vehicle for director and designer Michael Lunney. Christie's vision comes to life in all its drab glory, complete with 1950's chintz sofas, twin sets and impressive pearls. Comparisons with TV incarnations of Marple dramas are inevitable, and the storytelling does lack the perfect polish of the best screen offerings. But Jameson brings such intimacy to her performance, that it feels like an evening spent with a friend. And with a wonderful cast including the likes of Janet Dibley (The Two Of Us) and Sarah Thomas (Glenda, Last of the Summer Wine) it would be hard to match the calibre of those on stage. This murder mystery is deliciously unexpected and full of the twists and thrills that make both a night at the theatre, and Agatha Christie's books such firm favourites.