Agatha Christie from the Rustington Players

The Players in rehearsal
The Players in rehearsal

A Murder is Announced is the play as the Rustington Players take to the stage this week with an Agatha Christie classic.

Nick Rowling is directing the whodunnit which begins with a chilling advertisement in the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette: “A murder is announced and will take place at Little Paddocks on Friday 13th October at 6.30.”

Little Paddocks is the home of Miss Blacklock where she and members of her household are shocked by the announcement. Tensions rise as they prime themselves for the evening in question. Neighbours drop by despite the warning, but events become rather too real when someone is shot dead ......

Clearly a case for Miss Marple to solve, with intriguing twists and turns along the way. The show is at the Woodlands Centre from March 14-17. Jane Vrettos plays the indomitable Miss Marple, Helen Chewter takes the role of Miss Blacklock and Martin Sworn is Inspector Craddock, with tickets available from or call 07546 306438; also available on the door.

Director Nick said: “I have always really liked Agatha Christie, and this particular play is based on a novel, as are most of them – though this is not one of the ones she adapted for the stage herself.”

Nick suspects his love of Christie is because he started early and read a good number of her novels at a young age: “I just like the puzzle element of them. I like a whodunnit. The plots were very much her strength, I think. It is very interesting to have the puzzle and to try to work it out, and I think audiences really like them as well. And also the roles are very good. They are very clearly described and very contrasting to each other. Each member of the cast has a role that stands out.” As Nick says, we are highly familiar with Joan Hickson as Miss Marple and David Suchet as Christie’s Poirot, but Nick believes it is important that his Marple deliver her own version of Marple – while obviously observing the key characteristics

“Miss Marple is very astute and that comes from listening very closely. Possibly she comes across as a bit fuzzy and twittery, but at the same time she is very astute.”

As for the directing: “Really I think most of it comes from the script. There is a big moment where there is a massive black-out and a gunman appears, not that you see him in the darkness, and someone is shot, and from that there is obviously a certain amount of tension towards the end.

“I am usually directing, with various people. I directed with Drip Action recently. I like to work with different people. I think the pleasure is having an overall view and having an image which you work towards making a reality. Every now and again, there is a practicality where something has to change or maybe a member of the cast suggests something, so that image is not set in stone… but it is nearly set in stone!”

Rest of cast: Jody Bull, Sarah Johnston, Vinnie Shepherd, Elizabeth Pickering, Nadya Henwood, Colin Bolton, Anne Baker, Mark Ireland and Harry Simi.