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New Era - A Murder is Announced

Here is the NWN review.

Classic Christie

New Era Players: A Murder is Announced, at New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from Tuesday June 21 to Saturday, June 25

On a balmy summer's evening, New Era's A Murder is Announced was an intriguing and delightful murder mystery. Transporting the audience to 1952 Chipping Cleghorn, an eclectic selection of guests have been staying at Little Paddocks, the country house of Letitia Blacklock - a sterling performance by Anne Oldham - and her life long friend the ageing rheumatoid Bunny (Mary Walker).

It's the morning of Friday the 13th when an announcement in the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette causes consternation for this sleepy village, announcing a murder at 6.30pm at Little Paddocks, and so begins a whodunit filled with false trails, hidden identities and lies.

Very much at 'home' were Ed Begley the charming yet smarmy typical Oxbridge student, Patrick, and his cynical sister Julia (Kate Honeybill). Also staying is the somewhat secretive single mother Phillippa (Jane Robinson). Recently moved into the village is the eccentric amateur sleuth Miss Marple, a beautifully crafted performance by Pam Hillier-Brooke.

Curiosity brings neighbours Mrs Swettenham, a lovely cameo performance by Marion Hatful and her churlish son Edmund (Jack Dillon) to "pop in whilst passing".

It would appear that someone is out to murder Letti, but who could it be? Is it the volatile foreign maid Mitzi (Nicollete Conti) who's cooking always has a 'secret' ingredient or is it really the mysterious intruder Rudi Schertz, who is shot when the house is plunged into darkness?

Enter the incisive Inspector Craddock, convincingly played by Stuart Hillman, who created a fully believable character with an excellent sense of timing. His investigation of the murder explored the social niceties of the period when doors were rarely locked, legacies appeared in wills and you might be the recipient of a fortune, although he would rather be watching the local football match.

Fussing, busybody Miss Marple was the thorn in his side who, when asked whether she "would like to be a policeman?", replied "Oh yes but I wasn't tall enough". Classic Agatha Christie.

Beautifully costumed, director Kathleen Ray had perfectly captured the period and genre, although at times the production lacked pace. As to the real murderer... Well how could I give it away?