A Murder Is Announced
published: Sun, 1-Oct-2006 | updated: Wed, 4-Jan-2017
Edmund Swethenham in A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie, adapted by Leslie Darbon, for the Dulwich Players at St. Barnabas Hall, Dulwich Village. Directed by Lorraine Greenslade. January 1984.
This production is famous in the Bucknall acting canon for being marital therapy. My wife and I were going through some difficulties at the time and we'd just started a course of counselling at with someone at King's College Hospital.
One particular session, the counselor told us we needed separate hobbies, and that we shouldn't always do everything together all the time. The problem was, as she explained, that we go to work, come home crash in front of the telly, and then go to bed. Our lives were boring and we needed outside interests; and to help our relationship it would be better if they were separate, so that we would have something to talk about together.
That very evening, Yvonne Wilcox, our next-door neighbor, came round and asked whether I'd done any acting before. Apparently, the Am Dram group she belonged to had a dearth of young personable men for their next production and was I interested? I went along and was cast in this rather awful adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel starring Miss Marple (or maybe the adaptation was OK, but the novel was awful, I don't know).
Rehearsals happened at the Greenslade's. In those days, they lived in this huge house on Half Moon Lane (very Addams Family looking -- you expected bats to be flitting around) and the entire upper floor had a small stage and auditorium. (They sold the house a couple of years later, and it was pulled down to build three or four modern houses on the land.)
The production was OK, nothing stellar. The most important thing about it was fulfilling our counselor's request through my getting an outside independent interest. Unfortunately, that lasted only three months since the next production was Joking Apart by Alan Ayckbourn with my wife as Olive and me as assistant stage manager. Oh well.