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Go Back For Murder

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 27th Feb 2013 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge

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GO BACK FOR MURDER – Darlington Civic Theatre

 Carla Le Marchant (Sophie Ward) learns a disturbing family secret; her mother, Caroline Crale, died in prison after being convicted for poisoning her father, celebrated painter Amyas Crale (Gary Mavers). Caroline leaves an intriguing legacy in the form of a letter professing her innocence and, believing this to be the truth, Carla is determined to clear her mother’s name. Enlisting the help of Justin Fogg (Ben Nealon) the son of her mother’s defence lawyer, Carla searches out all the players from her tragic history and brings them back to the scene of the crime to uncover the truth.

 Suspects, secrets, and red herrings abound in this highly stylized production and if you look beyond the overly-exaggerated performances and implausibility of certain aspects of the plot you will, in all likelihood, have an enjoyable – if undemanding – evening’s entertainment. After all, there are many aspects which deserve praise: Simon Scullion’s wonderfully functional set; Douglas Kuhrt’s atmospheric lighting design and Brigid Guy’s period costume design, to name a few.

 The problems with this piece lie in the casting and direction – and I am sure the former contributed to the latter. For instance, although Sophie Ward gave an engaging performance in the dual roles of Carla, and Caroline and switched effortlessly from one to the other, her unconvincing Canadian accent when playing Carla proved something of a jarring distraction and it could easily have been omitted from the production without any real consequence at all. Similarly, Liza Goddard (despite being a fine actress) failed to convince as Miss Williams, the staid spinster Governess, and Lysette Anthony unashamedly over-egged the pudding in the role of femme-fatale, Lady Elsa Greer. By contrast, Robert Duncan (as Philip Blake) and Antony Eldridge (as his brother Meredith Blake) seemed to merely ‘walk-through’ their roles. And as for Sammy Andrews’ performance as Angela Warren (both in childhood and adulthood), well my compassion for humanity prevents me from offering an honest critique.

 In fairness, the second act is pacier and more enjoyable than the first and Christie once again employs her knack for leading the audience up the wrong track. However, that was not enough to redeem the production as a whole and, at the end of the performance, I was left with the feeling that the production had over-promised and under-delivered. I certainly would have expected a Bill Kenwright production to be an altogether slicker affair.

 Steve Burbridge.

 Runs at Darlington until Saturday 2 March 2013.

 For more information and to book tickets visit



1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Steve. A shame that this production didn't quite deliver ... especially when the talents of the cast are obvious.
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