By Henry Jones
CTC’s production of Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced is Julia Atherley’s directorial debut and it promises to be very special.
The show opens, there is talk of a murder at six-thirty p.m in the local paper, everybody gathers at Little Paddocks full of joking expectation, six-thirty arrives…and someone is killed. Enter Miss Marple.
I deliberately asked to only see the opening scene and I left full of excitement, wishing I had seen more. In just fifteen minutes complex character dynamics, hidden tensions, and murder related anxiety all develop. I look forward to seeing the play in full.
Atherley noted how hard it is to approach Christie’s work when many others have done so before, but she hopes to demonstrate the timeless nature of the story, whilst also making it her own. She wants the production to be primarily concerned with character. So Marple (played by Emily Skelton), for instance, is portrayed as young and intelligent, doing away with the comic aspects of an older dithering investigator and forcing the play to operate around the mind of a woman.
Atherley also hopes to create a high-tension production (something which I certainly felt in the opening scene). She does not want “cosy armchair Christie”, rather she wants high energy from the start: “we have a space to fill and I want the characters to be bigger than that”.
Sarah Cameron (playing Miss Blacklock) said that performing in Castle’s Great Hall had been a “new challenge”, but it is risk that Atherley is confident will pay off. The setting suits the style of Christie’s work and the beautiful wooden surroundings and grand doors quickly trick you into fully believing that you’re in a drawing room, watching a murder investigation. Lydia Marshall, the show’s producer, said that she believes the show has a “strong cast” who will rise to any of the challenges the show poses.
The production looks like it will be excellent; do not hesitate to go and see it.
A Murder is Announced is playing on 3rd and 4th February in Castle Great Hall.
Photograph: Castle Theatre company