Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 31 October 2013
A Murder Is Announced, Oct 31, 2013 ***1/2
Miss Marple Mystery, adapted by Leslie Darbon from Agatha Christie
Comedy Theatre, Oct 31 until
Nov 17, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Oct 31, 2013
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Nov 1, 2013 and in print on Sunday, Nov 3, 2013. KH
Judi Farr as Miss Marple
IF YOU love an Agatha Christie
murder mystery, this stage adaptation of A Murder Is Announced, her fourth Miss
Marple novel, will be just your cup of tea - or cup of poison.
This Australian production has all
the crucial Christie elements: an isolated country house, a parade of quirky or
pretty suspects, a couple of bloodless murders, oodles of red herrings, a
brusque detective, and the inimitable Miss Marple: elderly village spinster and
In Darren Yap’s production, Judi
Farr is a dainty, smart and unassuming Marple, capturing her watchful, cunning
gaze, polite intrusiveness, and insightful analysis of everybody's murky
Miss Marple is fortuitously visiting
the village of Chipping Cleghorn for her rheumatism treatment when a disturbing
notice appears in the local rag: "A murder is announced and will take
place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30pm."
By another marvellous stroke of
luck, sweet old Miss Marple is acquainted with Letitia Blacklock (Debra
Lawrance), owner of Little Paddocks, so she pops in for a cuppa just around the
time of the murder. Yes, there's a murder at 6.30pm.
Leslie Darbon's 1977 stage
adaptation of Christie's 1950 novel is old-fashioned, English-drawing-room
drama, with plenty of anodyne but witty dialogue, deliciously silly plot twists
and daft characters.
This Miss Marple is not as fey and
distracted as she is often portrayed; she does less knitting and does not
indulge her habit of judging criminal behaviour by comparison with naughty
characters in her own village of St Mary Mead.
Lawrance's Letitia is the epitome of
stately gentlewoman, Deidre Rubenstein's Dora Bunner is enjoyably batty and
mercurial, while Victoria Haralabidou is hilariously bouncy and bonkers as
Mitzy, the Hungarian maid with a persecution complex.
Robert Grubb is likeable as the
brusque, business-like Inspector Craddock, Carmen Duncan is suitably dim and
decorative as Mrs Swettenham, and the remaining cast play appropriately pretty
young things who are all suspects for various reasons.
A Murder Is Announced is
light-hearted fun that will appeal to Christie fans and those who like a good
yarn rather than an avant-garde, theatrical assault on the senses.