Monday, March 23, 2015

A Review of A Murder is Announced

by Toni Wood

Waterloo - A Murder is Announced, running at the Waterloo Community Playhouse, is an adaptation of the fourth Miss Marple book, written by Agatha Christie. This intriguing and surprisingly funny adaptation will keep you guessing 'til the very end.

The basics of the story are classic Agatha Christie; an ad appears in the local newspaper's personal ads stating that a murder will occur at the home of Letitia Blacklock on the night of Friday, October 13th at 6:30 p.m., which, as luck would have it, is the night that the play begins. The characters become more and more nervous as the time ticks toward 6:30, and after the murder, secrets, lies and cover-ups of nearly every character come out.

Some of the actors I have seen in past shows, and they either lived up to what they had done in the past or exceeded it. Letitia Blacklock is played delightfully by Bev McCusker. She's elegant and kind to both her friends and her boarders who are staying at her place. McCusker is believable as the baffled owner of the murder house, and she has her own secrets that come out in the end.

Leslie Cohn plays Dora 'Bunny' Bunner, with such breathless daffiness and with such expert physical comedy that I didn't even realize it was her at first. She shows herself to be a versatile actor.

Andrea Morris was last seen in Frost/Nixon at WCP, and she plays the widowed mother to a young boy, Phillipa Haymes, with the same strength as the character she played in Frost/Nixon. Andrea, here, however, has a few more depths and secrets than she had been allowed to play in the past, and she is enchanting as Phillipa. Every time she reacted to one of the other characters with derision, it was a delight to behold. She also has some choice moments of physical comedy that are giggle worthy. With Andrea, you watch her eyes and her face—that's where all the action is. She has wonderful facial expressions and her eyes just kill it.

Kristen Petersen (Julia Simmons) and Anthony Covington (Patrick Simmons) play a brother/sister pair who may or may not be after Letitia's money, and who have plenty of things to hide. And, for the most part, they worked well. They behaved and sounded like the spoiled young socialites they were written to be, but physically they didn't look enough like brother and sister. Otherwise, they were quite charming as this pair.

Scot Morris played a local writer and beekeeper, Edmund Swettenham. Edmund comes 'round to see what is going on at Letitia's, and Scot plays him with foppy effervescence. Tony John was capable as Inspector Craddock, even if he had no trace of a British accent whatsoever. Nancy Patterson's portrayal of the Eastern European cook, Mitzi, was as frenetic and crazed as she felt she was persecuted by the authorities, both here and in her home country. Every time Patterson was on stage, giggles rippled through the theatre. A true, true delight. And you will never believe what the special guest star, Neil Peterson, ended up doing in the show.

Bonnie Williams portrayed Miss Marple as a kindly albeit nosy old lady, who seems to just want to be involved with the investigation at every twist and turn. One might think she was just a lonely woman, but underneath those grey curls lies the brain of a detecting genius, much to the chagrin of Inspector Craddock. Williams and John had wonderful chemistry together as the mismatched sleuths—his exasperation turns to cooperation as the mystery deepens.

The costume design, done by Chicago's Carol J. Blanchard, was lovely and evoked the 1960s of the play nicely. I was particularly fond of the costumes Cohn wore as Bunny—they were as colorful and zany as her character. McCusker's costumes added more elegance and grace to her character.

I clearly am not going to tell you the ending—the fun of a mystery is seeing it unravel, especially in Williams' as Miss Marple's capable hands. When this murder is announced, you will definitely want to stay for the
Delicious Death.

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