THE Canberra Theatre was packed to the rafters for the opening night of “A Murder is Announced”. It’s a rare treat to see a touring, professional production with such a large, illustrious cast.
The commercial viability of the show reflects a human fascination with the British whodunnit form that sees Agatha Christie remain unchallenged as the world’s biggest-selling author, nearly 40 years after her death.
The show played to the strengths of theatre, emphasising physical comedy and allowing the expert timing of an accomplished cast to drive momentum. All the action was condensed into one beautifully lit room in which outrageous and incredible acts were played out beneath a facade of refined domestic realism.
While the strengths were well played there were limitations. The highly contrived plot, in which two murders took place and three people operated under assumed identities, required a level of character back-story that would unfold through the eyes of amateur sleuth Miss Marple in other forms. On stage, the revelations were less obvious and it was easy to miss a key line or inference.
It was a highly enjoyable and unpretentious show with some outstanding performances. Victoria Haralabidou was a comedic keystone as the Russian maid, Mitzi ,and Sonia Todd shone as Letitia Blacklock. Judi Farr’s bright and lively Miss Marple was practically perfect in every way and Deidre Rubenstein’s lovable Dora Bunner lent a tragic twist to the mix.