Review – Agatha Christie’s Go Back for Murder

February 15, 2013 | By | Reply More

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King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Mon 11 – Sat 16 Feb, 2013

Emigrant Carla Le Marchant is back in the UK from Canada to tie up some business before she weds – who killed her philandering father?

Lysette Anthony in her 1968 look in Agatha Christie’s Go Back for Murder.

Lysette Anthony in her 1968 look in Agatha Christie’s Go Back for Murder.

Carla’s mother went down for the poisoning and died in jail, but a letter she left insists on her innocence. With the assistance of solicitor Justin Fogg, who followed the case closely, Carla aims to interrogate the five other people present when the crime was committed 20 years previously, and learn the truth …

… and there you have the premise of Go Back For Murder, Agatha Christie’s own 1960 play based on her Hercule Poirot mystery Five Little Pigs. The Belgian detective and his little grey cells have been excised, with Justin filling his role, and the adaptation doesn’t suffer at all, with the charming lawyer opening up the possibility of a romance between our amateur sleuths.

The first act is wholly set in the slightly more up-to-date 1968, with Carla meeting the suspects and persuading them to return to the scene of the crime, her childhood home of Aldebury on England’s south coast. After the interval, we watch the last days of Carla’s artist father, Amyas Crale, through the eyes of the five witnesses – with the narrative baton passing from scene to scene depending on who was present.

Given the vagaries of memory, and the likelihood of the real killer lying, gleaning the truth is a tall order; can Carla and Justin – and the audience – pick up on the clues and solve the crime?

So whodunit? The Official Agatha Christie Theatre Company done it, and very well they done it, too.

The conceit of the second half allows the actors to have fun playing younger versions of themselves. Brothers Philip and Meredith Blake, played by Robert Duncan and Antony Edridge, are basically the same men with slightly different wardrobes. But Sammy Andrews, as jolly hockeysticks explorer Angela Warren, gets to frolic as a 14-year-old while Lysette Anthony transforms from worldly peer’s wife to husband-stealing minx.

Wounded dignity

Liza Goddard leaves behind a stage limp to essay governess Miss Williams as a younger woman, while Sophie Ward has the biggest challenge, switching between the roles of Canuck Carla, a thoroughly modern miss, and her very English, awfully demure mother, Caroline.

She’s well up to it, though, swapping Carla’s sass for the wounded dignity of a woman who sees her marriage crumbling before her eyes. Gary Mavers makes a fine fist of ‘loose-living’ artist Amyas. conveying the charisma that convinces you he is indeed a womanising rotter – I doubt anyone in the audience mourned his passing.

As Justin, Ben Nealon pulls off the tough task of shifting from active participant to flashback wrangler with aplomb, cueing up the theatrical magic that propels the story toward the reveal of the killer. The final cast member, Mark Lisseman, doesn’t have a whole lot to do, but he’s a useful utility player, as solicitor’s clerk Turnball and scene shifter-in-chief.

If you can’t get enough of ITV3’s diet of Christie repeats and murders in Midsomer, you’ll appreciate the cracking turns from familiar TV faces in a sharp production with a clever plot, good gags and a supremely satisfying conclusion.

It’s perfect fare for a winter’s evening – a little cosy, but immensely clever and presented with real charm.

Run ends Saturday 16 Feb, 2013.
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Daily 7.30pm (Wed, Sat mat, 2.30pm)
Tickets from King’s Theatre website: www.edtheatres.com

ENDS

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