Watchers were in awe when it was announced at Newcastle Theatre Company’s 2018 season reveal function that Miss Marple, a country woman adept at solving murder mysteries, would be coming on stage to announce the first show.
As the woman, dressed in 1950s clothes, entered, it was revealed that she was Arlene Richards, director of the Agatha Christie thriller A Murder is Announced, which will be staged in March.
Richards noted that the play’s title refers to a notice in the small town’s newspaper that a murder will occur on a certain day, with residents meeting to determine their reaction to the statement. Claire Williams will play Miss Marple, with Tracey Gordon and Stewart McGowan in other key roles.
A Murder is Announced is one of eight diverse shows being staged by NTC in the 12 months from next March to February 2019.
Cheryl Sovechles, who directed a CONDA-winning production of The One Day of the Year in 2015, will present another highly-regarded Aussie work, Ray Lawler’s Summer of the 17th Doll (April-May). It looks at changes in the relationships of two cane-cutters and a pair of Melbourne barmaids when the men head south to meet the women they have romanced for 17 years.
Playhouse Creatures (June), by April de Angelis and directed by John McFadden, has an all-female cast. It looks at the reactions of female actors in 1669 to being allowed by England’s king to perform on stage.
Peepshow (by Isabel Wright, director Pearl Nunn; July) looks at the lives of seven people who live in the same city building, with the background including songs by British band Lamb.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), with John Wood as director (August-September), includes amusing reworkings of scenes from all 37 Shakespeare plays, plus some sonnets, with just three actors. The American devising team, Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, have made constant changes to the play since it was first staged in the 1980s.
The Third Act (director Julie Black; October) is the premiere of a new play by Novocastrian writer and actor Emma Wood, which looks at a woman having to renew relationships with her estranged husband and his new partner, as she organises her daughter’s wedding.
Harvey (directors Leanne Mueller, Lyn Singer; November), a Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy by Mary Chase, is centred on the title character, a tall invisible rabbit a young man asserts exists.
Quartet (by Ronald Harwood, director Brian Wark; Jan-Feb, 2019) is a comedy focusing on four retired opera singers who live in a country house.