Murder she wrote

IN the small English village of Chipping Cleghorn, a murder is announced and everyone's a suspect.

It starts off innocently enough, but soon there is blood. The villagers, including one Miss Marple, are overcome with curiosity when an advertisement in the local gazette states: 'A murder is announced and will take place on Friday 13th October, at Little Paddocks at 6.30pm.'

Intrigued, they gather at the appointed time, and they don't have long to wait. Then the lights go out, a gun is fired and a body falls. And then the crime must be solved.

It's a classic Agatha Christie whodunit, and Queanbeyan theatre fans will have their chance to catch it played out on stage with an all-star cast when 'A Murder is Announced' opens at the Canberra Theatre tomorrow night.

The large cast is led by Judi Farr (Kingswood Country, A Place Called Home) as the septuagenarian sleuth, Miss Marple, and also features television stars James Beck (City Homicide, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Neighbours), Robert J. Edwards (Underbelly, The Mousetrap), Jamie Kristian (Underbelly: Razor, The Bill, The Crucible), Mark Lee (Gallipoli, Seachange, Packed to the Rafters) Elizabeth Nabben (Winners and Losers) and Sonia Todd (Shine, Police Rescue, McLeods Daughters, All Saints).

And playing the exotic and well-to-do Mrs Swettenham is Australian television, film and stage actress Carmen Duncan. As a long-time Agatha Christie fan, she told The Queanbeyan Age she was having a blast settling back into the 1950s, small-town world of Miss Marple.

"It's been marvellous for me, because I haven't been on the stage for a very long time, so it's been fantastic," Ms Duncan said. "I'd forgotten how rewarding it is to have a character that you can continually work at and improve over a period of time."

The production has already played to theatre-goers in Melbourne and Brisbane, and has been rewarded with positive reviews and strong ticket sales. Ms Duncan credited the show's early success to the enduring appeal and charm of Agatha Christie's mysteries.

"Agatha Christie was one of the great thriller writers. I remember reading her in my early teens, and I think anybody who's a reader has read Agatha Christie at some point.

"And I think people are a bit sick of going to the theatre and being bombarded with bad language and violence and sex.

"I think it's really comforting to just go to the theatre, settle in your seat, have a good laugh and just be intrigued and try and work out a mystery.

"And of course everybody's a suspect, and that makes it fun as well," she said.

n Catch A Murder is Announced at The Canberra Theatre from Saturday, February 22 to Friday, February 28.To book tickets, phone the box office on 6275 2700 or visit

www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au

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