Excellent outing for Christie’s tale

WEEKLY newspapers have carried their fair share of curious announcements but a 1953 edition of the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette had the village agog.

An item in the small ads stated that a murder would take place at 6.30pm on Friday, October 29, at Little Paddocks, the home of Letitia Blackstock.

So we enter Agatha Christie territory in A Murder Is Announced, with its red herrings, blind alleys and Miss Marple on hand to help the police with their enquiries.

The period was captured at Derby Theatre even before the curtain rose, with light music from 1950s wireless and television shows (Devil’s Galop from Dick Barton, radio’s forerunner of 007) and a fine programme, with a splendid mock-up of a vintage weekly broadsheet.

As for the play, this was beautifully performed by a cast which included several who are no strangers to TV.

Dean Gaffney and Gemma Bissix became known to modern viewers through their roles as Robbie Jackson and Clare Bates in EastEnders but they both show that there are more strings to their bows than Albert Square.

Most prominently – and excellently – featured were Katy Manning as Letitia, John D. Collins as the police inspector and Claire Fisher as the hapless Dora.

There were strong supporting performances from Poppy Meadows, Ingrid Evans, Mark Martin, Oliver Blagden and, by no means least, from Julia Main as the Hungarian maid.

And then, of course, there’s Miss Marple, this time in the capable hands of Geraldine Newman, the Hilda of Howard and Hilda fame in Ever Decreasing Circles.

There were the typical puzzles of mixed motives, concealed identities, a determined inspector grimly following the twists and turns and, of course, the inimitable Miss Marple on hand to provide the final solution in a dramatic confrontation scene just before the final curtain.

A Murder Is Announced is the first in the new season at Derby Theatre and can be seen until Saturday.

To book for any show at Derby Theatre call the Box Office on 01332 59 39 39 or visit www.derbytheatre.co.uk