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Review: A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED at Oyster Mill Playhouse

The Agatha Christie murder mystery runs now through April 3rd.

Review: A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED at Oyster Mill Playhouse

Agatha Christie's A Murder is Announced was first published in 1950 and features her well-known female sleuth, Miss Marple. It was adapted for the stage in 1977 by Leslie Darbon, first appearing at the Theatre Royal. Oyster Mill Playhouse brings A Murder is Announced to the stage after a delay of two months due to the surge in Covid cases this past winter. Audiences can catch this classic murder mystery, directed by Aliza Bardfield, now through April 3.

The first thing audiences will notice is the set. Set designer Michael Hosler created a stunning sitting room for Letitia Blacklock's home, Little Paddock. The colors and decorations used are a delightful complement to the room's furnishings, creating a welcoming atmosphere. This set makes the audience feel as though they have just been invited in to enjoy a cup of tea.

Through the use of well-designed lighting and excellent blocking, this production keeps the audience guessing as to who the murderer is right up until the very end. In true Agatha Christie style, the story features twists and turns, mistaken identities, and purposeful deceptions. Through their body language, facial expressions, and vocal tone, the cast of 12 is able to build suspense and suspicion throughout the production.

As a true ensemble show, even the characters that are only seen for a brief time, such as Sergeant Mellors and Rudi Scherz, have an important role to play in setting the scene and moving the plot forward. Sergeant Mellors and Rudi Scherz are skillfully portrayed by Rick Ansel and AJ Rhodes. The Swettenhams, played by Karen McLaughlin and Matthew Golden are wonderful foils, leading the audience down various paths as they try to discern who the killer is. McLaughlin and Golden work well together as mother and son.

The way McLaughlin's face lights up any time a bit of gossip is introduced is perfect for the role, and Golden's eye rolls and looks of embarrassment over Mrs. Swettenham's antics are a thing of beauty. Golden also interacts well with Megan Thomas's Phillipa Haymes. Haymes is an interesting character-perhaps one of the most mysterious in the story-and Thomas plays the role well. Caitlyn Davis and Trevor Clifford portray Julia and Patrick Simmons. The audience eventually learns that all is not as it seems with these two characters, and Davis and Clifford pull off the deception well, leading to gasps from the audience when their true stories are revealed.

While the whole cast acts their parts well, there were definitely some stand-out performances in this production. Letitia Blacklock, performed by Kristen Borgersen; Mitzi, portrayed by Suzanne M. Thomas; Dora Bunner (or Bunny), played by Kathy Luft; Miss Marple, performed by Margaret Morris; and Inspector Craddock, played by Murray J. Weed, are pivotal roles in the show. While the show can sometimes drag a bit, the actors portraying these roles in particular do so with delightful energy and emotion that keeps the storyline moving forward and draws the audience into the action. Borgersen plays Letitia Blacklock with wonderful poise, dry humor, and mounting emotion.

Luft's Bunny and Thomas's Mitzi are hilarious, and they have some of the best line delivery in the production. Morris and Weed are the perfect duo to play Miss Marple and Inspector Craddock-their interactions on the stage feel very natural, from their occasional banter to their more serious clue-gathering sessions.

Overall, this show, that the actors have been waiting to perform since January, is a well put together production. From the set to the costumes to the casting, A Murder is Announced will delight fans of Christie's mysteries. Visit www.oystermill.com for information on tickets and the other upcoming shows in their 2022 season.

Photo credit: Nicole Dube



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From This Author - Andrea Stephenson

Andrea Stephenson’s love of music and theatre was nurtured by her parents. She started performing as a singer and actor in elementary school, and her passion for the performing arts grew throughout her... (read more about this author)

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