Hog the Limelight
A Murder is Announced
by Agatha Christie
An evening of classic Agatha Christie with A Murder is Announced
On a glorious sunny evening in Douglas, the third night of the Easter Festival of Plays took a dark turn with crime thriller A Murder is Announced presented by local group Hog the Limelight Productions. It was a popular performance, drawing in a large audience, and was once again overseen by experienced adjudicator Jill Colby.
A Murder is Announced is a tense affair involving Agatha Christie’s famous amateur sleuth Miss Marple adapted for the stage by Leslie Darbon. The story centres on the quaint village of Chipping Cleghorn and is set in the drawing-room of Victorian house ‘Little Paddocks’. Owner Miss Letitia Blacklock, her family and friends are gathered for tea when an announcement is found in the local Gazette stating a murder will take place that evening at 6.30pm. Full of the usual ‘red herrings’ and assortment of oddball characters – where no one is as they seem – the play sees multiple killings and plot twists over the two Acts leading to the denouement of Miss Marple unmasking the murderer just in time.
As a first for this Festival, the curtains opened to a full ‘box’ set with wing-back armchairs, decorated flats and a roaring fire giving a vivid picture of rural England in the 1950s. The action moved along at a good pace and each character was clearly identifiable. Adjudicator Jill Colby felt at times greater pace was required given the large cast and script but that the story came across with conviction.
Of the many actors involved in this production, several deserve special mention. Lulu Gillow playing Miss Marple brought to life the busy-body detective whose inquisitive nature helps her to see through the web of lies and unravel the mystery. She gave a thoughtful performance and lived up a daunting prospect for an actor, given the affection in which the character is held. Sharon Walker in the role of Miss Blacklock portrayed a likeable and outwardly-composed figure whose house is beset with intrigue. Billy Newton asInspector Craddock fought to find the truth amidst the lies and was an authoritative presence on stage as he interrogated each character in turn.
Good use was made by the director of changes in lighting, with tableaux accentuating cliff-hanging scene ends in both Acts, and a selection of musical interludes fitting the period exactly. These points were picked out by our adjudicator.
Overall, Hog the Limelight presented an entertaining show and Jill Colby felt they demonstrated an understanding of the style through the set, music and lighting. It was a challenging production to put on, given the large cast and complex narrative, but the company in general did very well.