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Silchester Players - A Murder Is Announced

11th to 12th May and 18th to 19th May 2018

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Miss Marple sorts it out

Silchester Players: A Murder is Announced, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, May 11, Saturday 12, Friday 18 and Saturday 19

Letitia Blacklock seems to be the only one who’s normal in her large Victorian house, populated by assorted friends and relatives and the weird cook/housekeeper Mitzi from the USSR. They see in the local paper an advertisement saying ‘A Murder is Announced’ and it will be taking place in that house at 6:30 that evening, and not surprisingly there is consternation. Come 6:30, various other people have turned up, including Miss Marple – never a good omen – and indeed a murder does take place. The plot has many twists and identity changes, with Inspector Craddock almost solving it until Miss Marple finally sorts it out.

Claire Humphreys was splendid as Miss Marple, elderly but full of beans, and dominating the stage with her diminutive presence. Sarah Oliver as Letitia was particularly good with a very expressive face and natural acting style. Clive Solomons brought an air of authority to the Inspector. These three main characters worked well together but all needed to be louder.

Rebecca Wright’s fiery Mitzi was full of energy and brought much of the humour to the production. Mary Robertson was Letitia’s old friend Bunny, with memory problems. She played this in a melodramatic way that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the play; I’m not sure what director Brian Gillett had in mind here.

There were strong performances from Joe Williams, confident and relaxed as Patrick, and Anna Carson as Philippa.

The first murder was particularly effective, taking place in darkness apart from a single torch, and the gunshots drew gasps from the audience.

On the first night, there were too many prompts, the pace was a bit slow at times and entrances needed to be sharper.

The set was good, with sturdy doors, but the bright blue of the walls didn’t have a very 1950s look. The costumes were excellent and looked just right for the period, with most people having five changes of clothes. Well done Mandy Larby (wardrobe).

It’s an intriguing play. You have to pay attention to keep up with all the twists, but the strong and confident cast made it an entertaining evening.