Murder on the Nile by Agatha Christie at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, August 4. Review by ANGELA SINGER.

MELODRAMA can be lovely when it's done well. Chloe Newsome's bitter laugh as the distracted Jacqueline de Severac is one to remember.

Just what you need on a wet summer evening, a bit of a murder mystery. I say a bit because it isn't really that mysterious. It turns out to be the number you first thought of. The audience gets plenty of clues but there is a lot of fun along the way.

Kate O'Mara as the great aunt Miss ffoliot-ffoulkes (yes, really spelled with lower case fs - it even says so in the script) gets plenty of mileage out of almost stepping over the bodies.

Death she feels is so thoughtless when you are trying to have a holiday on the Nile with your niece in peace.

Vanessa Morley is great as the French maid who throws a spanner in the works - did she or didn't she? We 'ave to wit and see.

The man who works it all out is Canon Pennefather, played by the redoubtable Denis Lill - in this play, a canon of the Church of England who might well go bang.

Ah yes, all the characters are dissembling in one way or another.

Miss Christie knew what she was doing. In 1954, she had three plays running in the West End, The Mousetrap, Witness for the Prosecution and Spider's Web. Her work has been translated into 100 languages.

Murder on the Nile began as a novel, Death on the Nile in 1937, which Agatha Christie turned into a play, first performed in 1944.

Interestingly, the themes: a young man desperate to find a job, the lengths people will go to for money, and one particular line: "the little man with no work, the man who protests in the street, he would be sent to prison - but the big man with the cigar, buying and selling companies, countries - he can rob and cheat and stay inside the law" are as pertinent as ever.

But these are there only if you care to look, most people won't. They will just enjoy a fine, ensemble production that is fast-paced and presented with aplomb and panache. The audience went out into the night with smiles on their faces.