Jewell Theatre Company’s feature play this season is “A Murder is Announced,” written by Agatha Christie and adapted by Leslie Darbon. This is the company’s first mystery production since 1992.
The play featured a largely female cast, half of whom were first-years. “A Murder is Announced” opens Natasha Lee Martin’s third year in directing Jewell Theatre Company productions.
The story appears to be an average murder mystery, full of fake identities, a much-coveted will and suspect relatives. However, the play takes these motifs and turns them on their head, creating an unpredictable and suspenseful story progression.
I found Nathan Wyman’s set design to be very visually attractive, with as many intricacies and details as the story itself. There was an old chandelier, ornate wall hangings and decorative upholstered furniture that set the scene effectively. To the same effect, the costumes by Tammy Keiser were expertly done, and the style fit both the characters and time period well.
The actors did a superb job at creating equally powerful moments of suspense andcomedy. The murder scene was legitimately frightening and the comedic moments were effortlessly funny.
Personally, my favorite performance was Brioni Garvin who played Mitzi, a Russian housekeeper. Her energy onstage heightened every scene she was in. Raquel Shaw’s centerpiece performance as Letitia Blacklock seamlessly led the show through all of the twists and turns Christie’s story had to offer.
That said, I should note that the casts’ British accents were not as consistent as they could have been. This inconsistency paired with the fast-paced dialogue made it difficult to understand what was being said on occassion. The blocking was a bit awkward, and at times cast members wandered idly around the stage.
Overall, I find myself reaching for criticism since I generally enjoyed the play. I implore you to support your colleagues and see “A Murder is Announced.” Their hard work and genuine effort is duly noted, and the payoff is big.