One of Agatha Christie's best loved crime classics, 'A Murder Is Announced' comes to Derby Theatre this month and promises to deliver intriguing plots, murder and subterfuge. Ahead of opening night, we spoke to star of the play, Dean Gaffney.
HM: Hello Dean! How are you?
Dean: Very well thankyou, sir!
HM: Tell us a bit more about the show, Dean. Is the stage version close to the novel?
Dean: Yeah, it’s more-or-less identical. We’ve not left anything out at all, which is nice because normally, for the stage, things have to be adapted. I don’t think we’ve dropped one line, which is interesting. We didn’t even have a script – we just read from the book.
HM: And for those that don’t know the story – could you give us a brief teaser about what they can expect?
Dean: Agatha Christie’s very good – I did an Agatha Christie about two years ago called The Unexpected Guest – and what she does is make every single person in the play a suspect at one point or another. Something happens and you go down a certain path and you think, “Oh! That person’s a suspect” then five minutes later you realise it can’t be them and it’s got to be someone else. She’s very clever in her writing.
In this story, the audience arrive at a home as all the characters are about to learn that a murder is going to take place on Friday at 6.30pm at the property where my character lives and it’s announced through the local paper. The story is all about how that unfolds. So everyone’s waiting for 6.30pm – there might be a murder, there might not – and it’s all very interesting!
HM: Is there added pressure when you work with material penned by such a renowned and revered author?
Dean: Definitely, because the audience that come to see this, I don’t think it’ll be their first murder mystery. I think you’ve got to be a fan of Agatha Christie, not necessarily to come, but to understand the work and where the red herrings are. It’s lovely to hear an audience gasp when they’re taken down a wrong road and that’s what Agatha Christie does; she puts red herrings in and obviously we play up to that, but it’s interesting to hear the gasps when the audience have got it wrong. You can see they think “I’ve got this now” halfway through the play and then something happens that makes them realise they’ve got it completely wrong and it’s interesting to witness them go through that.
HM: Tell us a bit about your character, Patrick Simmons. What’s his role in the story?
Dean: My character is staying in Chipping Cleghorn at his auntie’s house and he’s been there about three months. There’s a reason he’s come to the area and that comes out later in the play. He comes there with his sister, Julia who’s played by Gemma Blissix. It’s interesting as to why they’ve both turned up and it’s not necessarily for the same reason.
HM: You’ve already mentioned Gemma Blissix and there are some other very recognisable faces and names in the cast. Have your co-stars been good to work with?
Dean: Definitely. We’ve been very lucky with this one – everyone seems to be on their ‘A’ game. We literally only had a week of rehearsals, if that, so we’ve kind of done well to get this on the road and polished and as well as it’s doing at the moment and that just goes to show that the company hired good actors who know what they’re doing. It’s lovely to work with Gemma again and Katie Manning from Doctor Who – she reminds me of a Barbara Windsor kind of character – she’s hilarious. She’s the main part and I don’t know how she’s done it because she’s cracked it on stage all the way through.
HM: You’ve already done a run in Horsham; what was the reception like there?
Dean: It’s been great actually. The snow hasn’t affected us at all, which is lovely because normally when you get bad weather – certainly in places like Horsham and Buxton - you’re hard pressed to get people out, but we’ve been very lucky and the audience reaction has been nice and people have really taken it in. There have been lots of gasps in places we didn’t expect which just goes to prove they’re really listening.
'A Murder Is Announced' will run at Derby Theatre from Tuesday 29th January to Saturday 2nd February. Tickets cost from £10 to £23 (Concessions: £10 - £21) and can be purchased from the Derby Theatre website or by calling the Box Office on .