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Agatha Christie's A Murder Is Announced - UK Tour Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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More murder with Miss Marple
Agatha Christie's sleuthing busybody Miss Marple is one of the most loved characters in the world. That's why recreating her can make or break the success of a theatre production.
A Murder Is Announced
A Murder Is Announced is touring the UK


The latest UK tour to feature the tweed jacket detective is Agatha Christie's A Murder Is Announced by Middle Ground Theatre Company.

Taking on the mighty role of Marple is Judy Cornwell, better known as lovable Daisy in BBC's comedy Keeping Up Appearances. I caught the show early on in the tour at Malvern Theatres and while Cornwell perfected dotty to a tee, the acute sharpness associated with Miss Marple was sadly missing.

I also wasn't completely sure if all of the "dizziness" was acting as Cornwell stumbled over several of her lines and couldn't remember the word accomplice at one point, coming up with a bizarre alternative.

Maybe that will change as the tour continues across the country until November 28. It plans to stop off in more cities in the Midlands including Cheltenham, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton along with further afield in Chelmsford, Brighton, Blackpool and Exeter, to name a few.

This caper involves an advert being placed in a local newspaper announcing a murder at 6.30pm on Friday night at a grand house in the area. The various village residents are a mixture of bemused and frightened, no more so than when a gunman turns up and sets off a string of deathly events.

This play has been adapted to the stage by Leslie Darbon, but has been slightly amended to fit into a two and a half hour slot. Sadly, for the blood-thirsty among us, this means there's a lower body count and slightly less characters than seen in other versions.

A Murder Is Announced, Miss Marple, Judy Cornwell, UK tour, Middle Ground Theatre Company, Daisy in Keeping Up Appearances, agatha Christie play
The cast includes Judy Cornwell, Diane Fletcher and Tom Butcher from The Bill

Despite this, the production has a polished, grandiose look about it and, overall, there's a strong cast of actors playing the suspects.

Diane Fletcher as Letitia Blacklock, Tom Butcher (a regular in The Bill) as Inspector Craddock, and Lydia Piechowiak as the the eccentric Eastern European maid Mitzi are particularly impressive.

The death knoll to this production, however, is that it falls short on tension and pace. Deliberations are often very slow by Miss Marple and the red herrings aren't given an explanation before the close of the play.

However, if you like a murder mystery to keep the little grey cells ticking over, it's a fairly enjoyable night out.

Rating: 5/10

A Murder Is Announced UK Tour Dates
Tickets cost from 11.76 from individual theatres or through the Middle Ground Theatre Company website.

Weds 2nd Sat 5th September 2015 - Malvern Theatres

Mon 7th Sat 12th September - Chesterfield Pomegranate Theatre

Mon 14th Sat 19th September - Cheltenham Everyman Theatre

Tues 22nd Sat 26th September - The Lighthouse, Poole

Mon 28th Sept Sat 3rd October - Theatre Royal Blackpool

Tues 13th Sat 17th October - Cardiff New Theatre

Mon 19th Sat 24th October - Exeter Northcott Theatre

Mon 26th Sat 31st October - New Brighton Floral Pavilion

Tues 3rd Sat 7th November - Chelmsford Civic Theatre

Weds 11th Sat 14th November - Theatre Severn Shrewsbury

Mon 16th Sat 21st November - Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford

Tues 24th Sat 28th November - Grand Theatre Wolverhampton
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Why? Who-dunnit For Agatha Christie Fans
When: Touring until November 28, 2015
Phone: Various - See theatre list
Where: UK Tour - Cheltenham, Brighton, Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton and more
Cost: From 11.76
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