Theatre Review: Agatha Christie’s Go Back For Murder - Theatre Royal, Glasgow ✭✭✭

 Review by Danielle Shields

As we weep a fond farewell to David Suchet’s Hercule Poirot after a majestic twenty-five years, it is rather comforting that we are able to celebrate the strong tenth production from The Official Agatha Christie Theatre Company. This year the company focuses on a brave female’s quest to reinstall her mother’s reputation by traveling back in time to decode a suspicious event which occurred twenty-years ago, she must Go Back for Murder.
The play runs smoothly in two distinct times and places. In the first act we are introduced to soon-to-be bride Carla Le Marchant (Sophie Ward) in 1968 London, who discovers the disturbing tragedy that her own mother Caroline Crale died in prison after poisoning and killing her own husband Amyas Crale. Yet, Carla owns a precious letter in which Caroline confesses her innocence. The courageous twenty-five year old is adamant that her mother is telling the truth and so she seeks the aid of lawyer Justin Fogg (Ben Nealon) son of Caroline’s defence lawyer, to track down all those who were present during her father’s death. Act Two is mainly a flashback sequence where each of the five murder suspects relive the ill-fated death at Alderbury House twenty-years ago. Through inconsistencies in testimonies, Carla will be able to unravel the truth of what happened to her parents.
With a very minimalistic set-design and non-action within the play, it is up to the actors to give life to the script. Thankfully we are safe in the hands of the cast as they all give a realistic and classy performance. Sophie Ward, who is in almost every scene, is our sweet leading lady who guides us during the story through protagonist Carla and mysterious mother Caroline Crale. It is easy to see why Lysette Anthony was proclaimed as the ‘Face of the 80s’ by David Bailey as she commands the stage in every one of her scenes. Playing Lady Elsa Greer, the mistress of Carla’s father, Lysette vents out each sentence in a pompous drawn-out screech, which is both humorous and irritating, fitting the exaggerated character perfectly.
Go Back for Murder presents one of Christie’s best scripts in her later years where the dialogue demands to be listened to. The British heroine has also conceived fully-round original characters. If you experience déjà vu when watching the play this is most likely because it is based on Christie’s 1942 Hercule Poirot novel, Five Little Pigs. This nursery rhyme title complements the core of the story as Christe wanted to limit her suspects to five, meaning each of the five characters Carla questions all have a motive for murder. The role of the absent Poirot is taken on by lawyer Justin who is able to spot the clash in accounts during Act 2. One of the most stunning scenes in the play is when the characters are frozen on stage at the end of the second act as they quickly repeat their key lines from the flashback sequence to illustrate who the true criminal is.
A quirky feature to the play strangely does not happen within the action itself, but during the scene changes. Instead of the stage being swamped into darkness, there is enough light for the audience to continue watching the crew move in what seems to be a choreographed routine to adjust the scene. As this happens bluesy music plays in the background, allowing a soothing atmosphere as well as continuity for the actors still present onstage.
Go Back for Murder is yet another triumph for the eight year running Agatha Christie Theatre Company who have continued to successfully re-enact the imagination from one of the most talented writers in history.

Go Back for Murder is at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow until 23rd November.