Review: A Murder Is Announced at Floral Pavilion

There is a definite sense of occasion: it’s a period piece and the set is perfect pitch. The tone (feel) for the characters is impressive: congratulations to Michael Lunney the Director and Costume Designer who has put it all seamlessly together. There is a display with vintage dresses and period pieces in the Foyer of the Floral Pavilion and that was our first introduction to the play. The stage set was beautiful: elegantly constructed with a fine range of ‘just right’ period furniture and a stand out mantelpiece surround with antique mirrors. The acting was inspired and faithful to Agatha Christie’s original vision. The actors looked and acted their parts beautifully. Tom Butcher (as Inspector Craddock) seemed a little plodding and predictable in the beginning, but picked up by the end. Diane Fletcher (as Letitia Blacklock) was a strong and vibrant presence on stage throughout; Judy Cornwell (as Miss Marple) had an air of no nonsense, and intrepid inquisitiveness: a power dresser in tweeds, floppy Fedora and brogues. The plot is complicated in a good way, and the mix of characters: nieces, nephews and neighbours, and crucially a childhood friend (skilfully played by Sarah Thomas) are always entertaining. Almost no-one is exactly who or how they seem to be, but that’s all part of the clever plot. I loved it all, and I thought Rachel Bright (as Julia Simmons) was a real presence on stage, and has a beautiful melodic voice. If you get the chance, go and see this play. It’s been done with love and care, and it comes together wonderfully. It’s been skilfully adapted for the stage by Leslie Darbon: and that’s the key to the success of the whole production. The Floral Pavilion presents Agatha Christie’s ‘A Murder is Announced’ from October 27th – 29th October, and 125th Gala Performance Evening 30th October 2015.   Box Office: 0151 666 0000 www.floralpavilion.com Review by Jean Hill