Therry Theatre
The Arts Theatre
Until 16 Feb 2019

Review by Anthony Vawser

Agatha Christie was most definitely on the right track when it came to grabbing the attention of readers and theatre-goers alike. Possibly upon realising the degree to which wrongful death is such an eternal and universal outrage in civilised society, Miss Christie was able to build a veritable legend for herself, out of stories that reflected the primal desire by ordinary folk to see killers detected, cornered, and brought to justice – often thanks to such intrepid sleuth creations as Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot.

As its title would indicate, the latest offering from Therry centres around a murder to be solved – but this one is an historical crime that a young woman named Carla Le Marchant insists that her mother Caroline, convicted over the death of Carla’s father, did not commit. She enlists the skills and support of solicitor Justin Fogg in her quest to uncover the truth.

“Go Back for Murder” is a Christie adaptation, by the author, of her own novel “Five Little Pigs”. It deploys an unusual storytelling structure, setting up its heroine’s predicament in the early 1950s for Act One, then spending a large part of Act Two back in the late 1930s, with many cast members first playing older, then younger, versions of the same character (with varying degrees of success).

Simon Lancione (as Fogg) is a very effective leading man in his role; charismatic but with a welcome element of intensity that helps the proceedings to feel more urgent than they otherwise might. Chanelle Le Roux is a likeable Carla as well as a sympathetic Caroline. The supporting cast is filled out with a range of effective faces that look very much at home in their surroundings, though a couple of accents were either wobbly or non-existent, which didn’t aid in the suspension of disbelief.

Norm Caddick has skilfully directed the performers to keep a good pace and to project well, which aids greatly in following and comprehending a twisty tale such as this one. Act One can essentially be summed as a series of expository conversations or gentle interrogations laying the groundwork for Act Two; occasional lulls in the first half were probably difficult to avoid, but once we get to step back in time with the selection of suspects, there is no denying the grip that Christie and Caddick have tightened around us.

Nick Spottiswoode’s set design functions well enough for the purposes of the drama, while Richard Parkhill’s lighting is always there when-and-as needed, sometimes even springing a creative surprise in its use of the follow-spot. Gillian Cordell has this cast looking the part in convincing costumes, and Ray Trowbridge has made sure it all flows smoothly. It adds up to a satisfying detective tale that should not disappoint aficionados of the genre.