The popularity of a good old fashioned ‘whodunnit’ has never waned and no author represents our murder mystery mania better than Agatha Christie.

No wonder then that the eighth production from Bill Kenwright’s ‘The Agatha Christie Theatre Company’ draws a large crowd to the Floral Pavilion. This reviewer and Christie fan thinks they are sure to be disappointed then that Verdict is not a mystery at all.

The one murder happens in full view. The questions asked are more about justice and human psychology – some of which were very personal to Christie. They include whether every man has his price, if true love can strike twice, if murder can ever be the best thing, whether one should suffer for honesty or beliefs and if one is to blame for a motive whether one is to blame for the murder that follows.  

Professor Karl Hendryk spends his life teaching, reading and looking after his un-happy invalid wife Anya until his life is rocked my a murder in his home.

The cast of faces you might vaguely remember from that TV programme, film, or pop career all play their classic Christie roles adequately. The only standout performance comes from Elizabeth Power as nosey housemaid Mrs Roper. The less said about the attempts at foreign accents from a few of a cast the better.

Simon Scullion’s engagingly simple set is stuffed full of books and pleasing angles and Joe Harmston’s direction is fine with some well-lit vignette’s used to cover scene changes.

Where the first half is wordy the second is gripping and fascinating and contains a twist that had the capacity audience gasping.

It may not have been quite what the audience were expecting but in the end Christie’s storytelling and the truly theatrical tackling of many issues still of relevance wins you over.

- Peter Ruddick