A Murder is Announced, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
In the last of the three week season of plays presented by Talking Scarlet company they opted for the tried and tested Agatha Christie A Murder is Announced.
Perhaps not as familiar as The Mousetrap and Spider’s Web, this is Christie at her best filled with red herrings and featuring her favourite character Miss Marple.
There have been so many famous Miss Marples in the past – Margaret Rutherford,Julia Mackenzie, Geraldine McKewan – that it is a daunting part for any actress to take on.
But Louise Jameson,best known for playing Rosa di Marco in EastEnders for two-and-a-half years, is a perfect choice. She has all the familiar mannerisms and gets the interfering sleuth down to a tee.
Sophie Powles had already proved what a great actress she was when she played the troubled teenager Holly Barton in Emmerdale. In this play she is the mysterious widow Phillipa Haymes and it is not until the end of the play you find out what she has been hiding and she portrays an air of innocence that you would never guess she has a secret.
No-one is what they seem in this play and it takes a good cast to keep you guessing to the end.
Who is the strange foreign maid, Mitzi (superbly played by Jane Shakespeare), and why is someone trying to kill the owner of the house, Letitia Blacklock? Letitia is a totally believable character thanks to Jo Castleton who played her. Are Julia and Patrick (Lara Lemon and Vulliamy) really her nephew and niece?
This is a play well directed by Philip Stewart that will keep you guessing until the end and then surprise you. One nice touch is every scene, which is on a different day, sees all the characters in a change of costume. So many directors these days have the characters wearing the same clothes for the duration of the play. Agatha Christie will always be popular and this is one of the best.
Talking Scarlet will be back in Eastbourne week beginning July 22 with a new chilling ghost story, The Widow.
By Amanda Wilkins