Skip to main content

A Murder is Announced

King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars

Newspaper advertising may be down these days, but without it, Agatha Christie's thriller as brought to life in Middle Ground Theatre Company's production couldn't exist. The small ad in question appears in the local rag that serves the sleepy English hamlet of Chipping Cleghorn, where a Friday night murder mystery is promised in Little Paddocks, the country pile occupied by sixty-something village matriarch, Letitia Blacklock.

With the house brim-full with former school chums, extended family members and an east European refugee servant, it's all a bit of a wheeze until the Swiss assassin himself comes a cropper. Enter Miss Marple, who, as played by Judy Cornwell, is happy to sit knitting in the background as she nudges Tom Butcher's Inspector Craddock towards solving what turns out to be a case of international intrigue.

Despite confining the action to one room rather than the more scenic locales of Christie's original 1950 novel, Leslie Darbon's stage adaptation never quite evokes the dog eat dog claustrophobia of an And Then There Were None or a Huis Clois (and Christie at her vicious best is as existentially profound as Jean-Paul Sartre, any old day). First seen in 1977, Darbon's version also ditches some of Christie's more explicit portrayals of human cruelty, while Michael Lunney's production plays things partially for laughs. The latter approach benefits Lydia Piechowiak's portrayal of servant Mitzi hugely.

But beyond such fun and games, there are some pretty serious things being said about identity, and how the damage of life during wartime and its subsequent fallout can make it easier for opportunists to try on a new one to hopefully make a killing.

The Herald, February 3rd 2016
 
ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …