A Murder is Announced

Salisbury Playhouse until October 14

THEATREGOERS who relish a convoluted Miss Marple murder mystery by Agatha Christie have a treat this week in A Murder is Announced, at Salisbury Playhouse until Saturday. The Middle Ground production, adapted by Leslie Darbon, is directed and designed by Michael Lunney.

Louise Jameson has the key role of super sleuth Miss Marple, who cannot resist following up a newspaper's startling announcement of an impending murder. Even the date, time and location of the crime are specified. This may be a hoax, or some sort of game, unless deeper motives are afoot. In any case, who could be responsible?

The drama is played out in the large drawing room of Little Paddocks, an early Victorian house owned by Letitia Blacklock, coolly portrayed by Janet Dibley. Resident guests include her old, slightly muddled school friend 'Bunny" (Sarah Thomas), two young cousins Patrick and Julia Simmons (Will Huntington and Lucy Evans) and Pip Haymes (Alicia Ambrose Bayly), a war widow who is now the gardener. Lydia Piechowiak plays Mitzi, the cook, who is a refugee from Eastern Europe. Regular callers, who live in the village, are Mrs Swettenham, a diplomat's widow (Cara Chase) and her Left wing son Edmund, (Dean Smith). The presence of Rudi a hotel receptionist (Matthew Wellman) prompts the arrival of local police officers (Tom Butcher and Jog Maher).

As in any Agatha Christie plot, it all gets complicated, as secrets are exposed and some personal identities are questioned.

One character's comment: "Nothing happens here; it's another world," is clearly mistaken, but don't delay - the production goes to York next week.