Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Go Back For Murder - Review - People's Theatre

Go Back for Murder
People's Theatre
16th Jan 2018

There's nothing like a bit of murder and suspicion to start the year off and The People's Theatre have it down to a fine art with the annual Agatha Christie mystery. This year they have chosen Go Back to Murder - in which the crime has been committed, and the suspect tried and sentenced 16 years earlier. But has the right person been convicted?

Carla le Marchant (Ri McArdle)  receives a letter on her 21st birthday, written by her mother just before she died. In the letter her mother Caroline Crale professes her innocence of the crime of which she was convicted. She did not murder Carla's father Amyas Crale. The contents of the letter are a shock to Carla and to her fiancĂ©. His reaction - magnanimous, but perhaps insincere - prompts her to begin an investigation to prove her mother's innocence.

And so she meets with the six people who were there at the time of her father's death to try to piece together what happened, and solve the puzzle of her father's death and her mother's conviction. As she speaks to each one begins to piece together an impression of her parents' relationship with each other and their friends. Like a patchwork quilt, there are many threads and many little pieces that come together to make something.  Carla becomes more and more convinced of her mother's innocence and we, the audience, begin to see that the six people involved each had a motive for murder. But who had the opportunity, and why if she was not the guilty party did Caroline not put up more of  a fight in court?

This is a rather sedentary play, since there is no dramatic murder on stage, it relies on dialogue rather than action to progress the story. But there is also passion, jealousy, betrayal, love and loyalty played out within the words. A simple split set and clever spotlighting create atmosphere and build suspense.

The characters are diverse, and each one is played convincingly. Stand out performances for me come from Catherine Ellis as Angela Matthews, convincing as both the rebellious 14year old and the older, more cynical adult; Karen Elliot as the formidable Miss Williams and Gordon Mounsey as the rather prickly and supercilious Philip Blake.

By the end of Act One I had a good idea of who the true murderer might Act Two I began to doubt. In true Christie style the finger of suspicion points at everyone as the play progresses - it seems I had fallen for one of the many red herrings! A testament to Christie's skill as a writer, and to the direction of Philip Bradley, we are misdirected and kept guessing to the very end.

Go Back for Murder plays until Sat 20th. Go see if you can do better than I did at solving the puzzle. I bet you can't!

Denise Sparrowhawk

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