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The village newspaper announces an impending murder, and even provides the place, date and time. Who could possibly take it seriously?
A joke's a joke, or course, but as the villagers of Chipping Cleghorn soon discover, it goes far beyond that.
Agatha Christie's murder mystery has the kind of plot ingredients well known to aficionados of the genre: a blackout, twins, a key witness who knows too much and dies suddenly, a problematic inheritance, altered identities and so on.
Confusions mount, sub-plots multiply, and there's such a complicated trail of details, contradictions, clues and red herrings that it all starts to seem incomprehensible - and yet somehow it all makes perfect sense at the end.
Stageworks Otago's production, directed by Geoff Smith, has a set, props and, especially, costumes that evoke the styles of the 1950s. The only possible anachronism I spotted was a screw-top on a sherry bottle.
A very competent cast perform well, and special mention must be made of Stacey Gribben as a crisp, competent and likeable Miss Marple, and Jennifer Schack as Mitzi, the forthright and aggressive cook.
At times the pace could have been a little brisker, a few names got confused and a picture forgot to stay on the wall - but the first night of what promises to be a successful season (it runs until Saturday) went extremely well and was greatly enjoyed by the audience.
-By Barbara Frame
A Murder is Announced
Playhouse Theatre Wednesday, July 27