This tale of murder delivers a stream of laughs and satisfying twists and turns, with a strong central pairing who entertain from start to finish.
Based on Agatha Christie’s 1962 novel, Rachel Wagstaff’s adaptation makes several amends to deepen the emotional resonance of the piece, while keeping the central mystery intact.
The most successful element in this production though is the pairing of Susie Blake as elderly amateur sleuth Miss Marple and Oliver Boot as Chief Inspector Craddock. The two enjoy some fantastic dialogue and deploy an utterly believable chemistry, with Craddock by turns frustrated and grateful at his “aunt’s” interference / help.
They are bought together by the murder of local do-gooder Heather Leigh (Jules Melvin) at a party thrown by recently-arrived Hollywood couple Marina Gregg (Sophie Ward) and Jason Rudd (Joe McFadden). Ward is wispily enigmatic as the film star with a complicated past, whereas McFadden – despite appearing on publicity posters – has only snatches of dialogue and acts little beyond an accent.
Veronica Roberts as dowager Dolly Bantry has much more fun, and is extremely entertaining to watch, as is perky home help Cherry Baker (played by Mara Allen).
Adrian Linford’s set design features a central revolving corridor that forms a flexible enough backdrop to serve for a village cottage, a film set, and a country house, managing to be visually impressive but yet entirely unjarring.
Philip Franks direction maximises the impact of the play’s witty script, but also leaves room for moments of reflection and some emotionally charged moments. It romps along and is delightfully entertaining, building up enough affection from the audience to also tug at the heart strings.
It is delightfully handled by the principals with a talented ensemble supporting. There could be only one mystery remaining: why you haven’t got a ticket yet.