Theatre review: A Murder Is Announced, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

A Murder is Announced, signalling a fun couple of hours for Agatha Christie devotees
A Murder is Announced, signalling a fun couple of hours for Agatha Christie devotees
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A WINDBLOWN Tuesday night in February; and yet the theatre is packed with audience members who, at this time of year, relish nothing more than a brief escape into the wonderful world of Agatha Christie, where England still looks as it did around 1950, and where the murder mystery is always neatly solved in the final scene, restoring the world to rights.

A Murder Is Announced | Rating: *** | King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

Theatre managements have long noted that only the Queen of Crime can work this winter box office magic; and shows don’t come more traditionally Christie-esque than Michael Lunney’s touring production of this classic 1950 Miss Marple novel, adapted for the stage by Leslie Darbon. Excitement is intense in the village of Chipping Cleghorn, after the local paper carries the announcement of a forthcoming murder at the elegant house occupied by middle-aged lady Letitia Blacklock, and her slightly odd household of waifs, strays, and companions. And when a murder actually takes place as advertised, a thoroughly mischievous Miss Marple – delightfully played here by Judy Cornwell – is on the case even faster than the charming Inspector Craddock.

Despite its faint Cold-War resonances, A Murder Is Announced is a far gentler and less socially critical mystery than, for example, the pre-war masterpiece And Then There Were None; and this Middle Ground Theatre production lacks the challenging art deco edge often brought to the work, nowadays, by Joe Harmston’s Agatha Christie Theatre Company. Yet despite a blandly traditional set, and some decidedly stiff acting, it still offers a blissful couple of hours of whodunit fun; set entirely in a reassuring world of its own, and perhaps all the better for that.

• Run ends today