Playing at Derby Theatre this week the - Agatha Christie Theatre Company - presents a brand new production of Christie's classic murder mystery, Go Back For Murder.(touring)
The plot revolves around Carla Le Marchant (Sophie Ward) who has returned from Canada to investigate the death of her imprisoned mother, Caroline. The death has taken place in prison, twenty years after Caroline's conviction of killing her husband and Carla's father - Amyas Crate (Gary Mavers). Carla's late mother, Caroline, has left her daughter an intriguing legacy - a letter professing her innocence. This we learn by voice over in the very first minutes of the play.
This is a fast paced 'whodunnit' that will delight fans of murder mystery stage adaptations and Agatha Christie and given the interval chat about who the murderer could be the audience clearly revelled in the plot and action on stage.
The plot unfolds, illuminates and deceives and the play begins with a determined Carla Le Marchant anxiously trying to uncover the truth behind her father’s murder by poisoning with the help of Justin Fogg (Ben Nealon) who is the son of her mother’s original defence lawyer. Christie controversially left Hercule Poirot out of this one.
In the first act events take place at several locations in London, the arrangement of which is very well done by quickly executed scene changes and dramatic lighting. Gradually, we attain insights into the individual characters that were at the scene of the murder some twenty years previously at Alderbury House. The acting throughout was good and some deliberately hammy. Lysette Anthony was deliciously over the top as the older Lady Elsa Greer.
With the help of Justin, Carla manages to entice all the suspects back to the house where we witness a reconstruction of events that took place leading up to the 1948 murder in the second act. Stories unfold, twists and turns in the tale are abundant and there are more red herrings than in a kipper factory.
The staging design is simple and the lighting effects work especially well and gave a clarity to the plot that could have got confusing initially. The 1960s jazzy soundtrack helps create an atmosphere of time.
Could the murder have been committed by either of the brothers Philip and Meredith Blake (Robert Duncan and Antony Edridge) who had both been secretly in love with Caroline? Or maybe it was the dead man’s feisty opportunist mistress Lady Elsa Greer (Lysette Anthony) Of course no Agatha Christie play would be complete without an old fashioned governess, in this case a tea drinking Miss Williams admirably played by (Liza Goddard) and adding a little high spirited youth to the cast as the elder daughter of Caroline we have Angela Warren (Georgia Neville) in her professional debut. Each of these likely suspects, try to convince of their innocence with their own plausible version of events on the fateful day.
'Go Back For Murder' directed by Joe Harmston, is Agatha Christie at her best, a delicious play from her late years, well performed by a top notch cast and - as you'd expect - keeps us guessing until the very end. All could be guilty of the murder, but only one of 'em did it!