Review: ‘A Murder is Announced’ at Art Court Theatre

A Murder is Announced: Fri 7:30pm, Sat 2pm & 7:30pm, Sun 2pm. Through 10/21; $10-$18; City Theatre, Art Court Theatre, Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Boulevard; (916) 558-2228;
Rated 3.0

A Murder is Announced is not only a whodunit, it’s also a whodunit-to-whom, since both the murderer and the victim aren’t revealed until the second half of this Agatha Christie mystery.

City Theatre makes this production a fun event by having audience members turn in guesses at intermission, which produces much debate among the theatergoers.

This crime story is simple with the conclusions complex—just like most of Christie’s mysteries. An ad in a local paper announces a date and time when a murder will occur, along with the location: Miss Blacklock’s English village house. Some think it’s a joke, others are a bit frightened. Among the houseguests is Christie’s famous detective, Miss Marple, who starts poking around the house, unveiling hidden identities, motives, suspects and family secrets.

All action takes place in a Victorian-style parlor, a handsome set complete with period rugs, armchairs, cabinets and a fireplace. And the cast works well together, with the more theatrically experienced, older trio of ladies, leading the way—Kathleen Poe as Miss Blacklock, Georgann Wallace as Dora Bunner and Nanette Michael Rice as Miss Marple.

The stumble here is the wide range of accents by the cast, some subtle, others over-the-top, which makes the dialogue hard to understand—a challenge, since the play is all talk with little action.