Theatre Review: A Murder Is Announced

The residents of Little Paddocks House are astonished by an advertisement in the local paper stating a murder will take place in the house at 6:30pm on Friday night.

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Presented by The Therry Dramatic Society
Reviewed 5 November 2015

This classic murder-mystery performance falls short of the best adaptations of Agatha Christie’s work. The tension that would normally be expected isn’t quite achieved throughout this local production.

A Murder1The residents of Little Paddocks House are left astonished by a bizarre advertisement in the local newspaper stating that a murder will take place in the house at 6:30pm on Friday night. All of the house members are on edge as the time draws closer, although some local residents are intrigued and pop by to see what will unfold. As the clock strikes 6:30 a murder certainly does take place, but not in any way that was expected, leaving the local detective unsure of “whodunit”. Local amateur sleuth Miss Marple steps in and is determined to discover what really happened, unveiling a web of complex relationships, hidden identities and a large inheritance along the way.

Unfortunately the show feels quite slow and there is an obvious lack of cohesion among the actors on stage, leaving their performance feeling more like a dress-rehearsal than an opening night premier. This could be partly due to the unforeseen circumstances that left the show without a lead actor until Nikki Fort stepped in nine days before the opening night.

Director Ian Rigney does a great job with the murder scene which is tense and suspenseful, and had the opening night audience perched on the edge of their seats. Unfortunately most of the other scenes felt repetitive and possibly were not helped by the use of a single set throughout the entire play. The plot struggled to progress with any energy and enthusiasm which is unfortunate as strong performances would have enlivened this classic murder mystery.

A highlight of the show is the single set; an impressively detailed picture of the Little Paddocks Victorian drawing room, including a life-size fireplace, ornamental hanging glass lights and a large windowed area that appears to look out on the garden and sky above. As well as these large features, set designer Don Oswald has also attended to all the finer details including inside house plants, hanging paintings, lace curtains and antique decorations, giving the room a feeling of genuinely being lived in.

murderZoe Dibb, as Mitzi, creates many comedic moments throughout the performance with her lively portrayal of the dramatic, stubborn and paranoid Eastern European immigrant who is now Little Paddocks cook and maid. From the first moment we meet this absurd foreigner we look forward to her amusing presence on stage.

A commendation must be made to stage veteran Nikki Fort for stepping into the lead role of Letitia Blacklock only nine days before the opening night. She really gives the role her all, and despite some minor issues with lines, she has a very strong stage presence as the house’s mistress.

This is a sound attempt at an Agatha Christie classic, but unfortunately could have benefitted from more extensive rehearsals. Maybe after a couple of performances the actors will become more cohesive and the performance will find its footing.

Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Your Twitter: @Georgie_xox

Venue: The Arts Theatre, 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 5 – 14 November
Duration: 2 hrs 30 mins (20 min interval)
Tickets: $16.65 – $32.85
Bookings: http://www.bass.net.au/events/a-murder-is-announced.aspx

 

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