Review: Death on the Nile at Yvonne Arnaud TheatreBy Margaret Burgess
May 08, 2012
The Agatha Christie Company was created in 2006 to present quality productions of the work of the Mistress of Crime, and Death on the Nile at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is their ninth creation.
It's not their best, largely because it's one of those plays which works better on film. Most of us will have seen that version, with Peter Ustinov as a portly Poirot. You'll wait in vain for Hercule to appear. The sleuth in this play is Canon Pennefather, a part specially created by Christie for her friend Francis L.Sullivan and a very different kettle of fish.
But even if you can remember whodunnit, you'll still enjoy this classy show. The set is excellent.You really are watching life on board a Nile paddle steamer, with its sweeping stairs and elegant bamboo deck furniture - the sea is surely just the other side of the white rail.
And the 1930's dresses are absolutely lovely. Everyone is dolled up for dinner, even the firebrand left-wing armchair revolutionary, and cocktails and brandy are ubiquitous. As are cigarettes. Claridges on the Nile.
Two veterans show us that, like vintage port, some actors improve with age. Kate O'Mara as the crusty, snobbish Miss Ffoliot-Ffoulks, with Denis Lill as the avuncular Canon, are at the top of their form, surrounded by a good cast of suspects.The sun shines, the bodies pile up and the solution, which you probably remember, is given a new and ambiguous twist.
The Agatha Christie Company always entertain, and Death in the Nile despite its problems, is certainly entertaining.