Whodunit captivates appreciative audience

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“Towards Zero” cast members, from left, Jason Morton, Kim Wilson and Garry Robinson,

Theatre / “Towards Zero”, by Agatha Christie. At Belconnen Theatre until May 25. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

AGATHA Christie’s “Towards Zero” was first published in 1944 and was adapted for the stage by Christie and Gerald Verner in 1956.

The director of the current production by Tempo Theatre, Jon Elphick, believes it may be the first time it has been performed in Canberra.

The novel is a very clever whodunit and arguably one of Christie’s best. Tempo Theatre’s production of the play is one of its, too.

In “Towards Zero”, a murder occurs during a seaside house party. Investigating Police Superintendent Battle theorises that, when a murder is committed, the people involved all seem to be converging towards a given place and hour – all going towards zero.

This production is the tenth Christie play directed by Elphick. His large cast of 11 all perform their roles with conviction and a nice depth of characterisation. Kim Wilson, who has the distinction of playing in all 10 Christie productions directed by Elphick, gives a particularly fine performance as Superintendent Battle.

As well as some of Tempo’s regular performers, it was good to see other capable actors who are new to the Canberra stage, as well as two graduates from Perform Australia (previously Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art) in this production.

The costumes are credited to Marian Fitzgerald, Elphick and the cast. The women’s dresses were particularly attractive, stylish and correctly in period.

Elphick has once again produced a well-designed drawing room set with an army of cast members and other helpers who have constructed and dressed it. A small company like this doubtless has a limited budget but the production values on show here are impressive.

The large audience at the matinee performance I attended demonstrated that Tempo has a strong and appreciative following. We all had a lot of fun trying to guess the murderer – unsuccessfully, of course – in this well-done and intriguing murder mystery.

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