A Murder is Announced (Comedy Theatre, Melbourne)

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What do the critics think of A Murder is Announced? We review the reviews.
[box]30 Oct – 04 Dec show times Wed 1pm & 8pm; Thu-Fri 8pm; Sat 2pm & 8pm; Sun 1pm & 5.30pm Book tickets[/box]

The low-down

Miss Marple solves one of her most intriguing mysteries in this stage adaptation of one of The Queen of Crime’s most lauded novels. A Murder Is Announced begins the way its title suggests – a notice appears in the morning paper announcing that a murder will take place, with the exact details of when and where. Somebody ends up shot, but thankfully, everybody’s favourite crime-solving octogenarian, Miss Marple (here played by veteran Judi Farr), is on her way.

What the critics say

Although drawing room murder mysteries mightn’t be every critic’s cup of tea, there’s a consensus that there’s a strong audience for these good, old-fashioned thrills. With both this play, and their previous production of The Mousetrap, the producers are providing a kind of entertainment that our subsidised theatre companies don’t. Most critics agree that it’s a reasonably solid, competent production, but some have suggested that it doesn’t thrill as much as it should. Consensus rating: 6/10
“Christie’s tangle of mutable personal histories, shifting identities, and possible motives for murder is dumped into the lap of the audience and if you don’t know the story’s outcome already, the odds are against your picking the culprit. Director Darren Yap capably stages this static and talky puzzler and demonstrates a well-tuned ear for the postwar English milieu. But ultimately the convolutions of the script defeat his attempts to generate excitement. On occasion, Darbon’s thickly knotted prose has leading members of the cast tongue tied.” Jason Blake, Sydney Morning Herald
“The mystery is full of little old ladies, and our veteran actors are wonderful. Judi Farr is an inspired choice for Miss Marple, almost the platonic idea of the mild old duck who transforms into a compulsively sharp and irrepressible sleuth whenever murder approaches. It is a warm and modest performance, twinkle-eyed and poker-faced by turn, that insinuates itself into the scene with the same inevitability as the solution to the crime.” Cameron Woodhead, The Age
“The dramatic screws aren’t turned quite so tight in this adaptation of the novel of A Murder Is Announced as they are in The Mousetrap, which is the best of Christie’s full-dress stage plays. The grand reveal in The Mousetrap is a complete blindside, a reversal of all our natural expectations; A Murder Is Announced, on the other hand, is not so playful and not so daring (though when all the pieces come together it’s still a healthy thrill).” Andrew Fuhrmann, Time Out Melbourne
“The production of A Murder Is Announced that opened at Sydney Theatre on the weekend is a treat from beginning to end. There are no surprises here, no gritty reboots, no contemporising, this is Miss Marple as we know and love her, doing what she does best.” Chris Hook, Daily Telegraph
“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… 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.” Kate Herbert, Herald Sun
“A rather clunky first act finally gives way to a much snappier and shorter second act (and revelations, of course) and it will clearly improve as the run continues. The audience were in the main extremely entertained – those who love Agatha Christie will love the show anyway – and it’s novel to see such a deliberately old-fashioned play so lovingly produced.” Diana Simmonds, Stage Noise


Christie’s twists and turns are all there, but the play is pretty unsurprising.

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