Murder on the Nile

Date 22nd May 2019
Society In Your Face Theatre (Seaham)
Venue Seaham Town Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Sarah Porteous

Report

Author: Peter Oliver

One of the most famous of Agatha Christie’s plays was brought to life by the cast of In Your Face Theatre Seaham, in there 2019 production of “Murder On The Nile”. The setting was on board the paddle steamer “Lotus” as a group of unsuspected passengers embark on a trip down the Nile with consequences that they will never forget. Director Sarah Porteous whilst no stranger to the North East directed this stage version of one of the most famous whodunit mysteries, it was also lovely to read that Sarah had dedicated the play in memory of Jeanne Brown a former director and a dear friend to countless thespians across our region.

Pace is essential on a play like this, combined with a sense of period, style and social etiquette, a most realistic set was laid out which looked very realistic representing the observation deck of the paddle steamer where all the action was to take place, well dressed with suitable tables and wicker sofas and chairs in which to lounge and take in the sights, well done to Ethan Roberts and the ensemble for creating the set which visually looked genuine and credible to the story line. This play is written over three acts but in this production, it was condensed into two, congratulation to the Director as it is sometimes difficult when making a change to the script, as to where to have a natural break, time wise it occurred in a plausible place.

The strong cast of sixteen actors built the tension and pace throughout the first act, and I must point out how noticeable the diction was from the entire company which made the performance very realistic. Costumes and make up looked very much in period and certainly added to the whole ambiance of the production. First to appear on deck was Emily Harrison who played the dutiful steward she also doubled as Captain McNaught great accent and a well-executed performance especially when fending off the two persistent postcard and beadsellers which were brilliantly played by Norma Ord who always delivers a fantastic performance, excellent accent, and a natural ability to make people laugh, and in his first production John Curtis who I thought delivered a good character interpretation and certainly showed no nerves for his first performance.  In the play version of Murder on the Nile there is no place for Hercule Poirot to solve the mystery, it is left to another passenger to take up the mantle in the name of Canon Pennefather played by Martyn Banks who delivered a first class performance in this at ease character who’s shrewd observation and reasoning guided the audience through the cleverly woven web of conspiracy to solve the murder, stand our performance from this talented actor who has a huge stage presence in every role he plays.

The honeymooners Kay and Simon Mostyn were played by Alex Cox and Ethan Roberts, Alex delivered a confident and realistic performance as the wealthily heiress, who is used to getting everything she wants, great acting and a well-polished performance. Ethan was well cast in this role great acting especially when he was shot in the knee, he certainly had me fooled a well delivering and convincing performance. Playing Kay’s French maid Louise was Irene Smith, whose character stayed in the background befitting of her station until the time she was under investigation, it was then she came into her own, great accent and performance. Yvonne Newton played the role of Jacqueline de Severac whose sole purpose, we thought was to created havoc for the newlyweds, the spurned lover of Simon and friend of Kay stalked the honeymooners at every opportunity looking to seek her revenge, great character and well a delivered performance.

The talented Ann Malpass delivered an over the top performance of Miss Ffoliot-Ffoulkes the bullying old harridan, Anne is a very versatile actress and certainly commands the stage, in this role she delivered her snobbish upper class character with great aplomb, dressed in style she demanded all of the attention throughout her appearances, an excellent performance, I was amazed that her mild mannered niece and companion Christina played by Zoe Cook didn’t consider throwing her over board in Act 1 lovely performance by this talented young lady. It was a pleasure to see Jon Isabell back treading the boards in the role of the provoking, wise cracking young socialist William Smith who in reality was a rich aristocrat incognito, excellent well delivered performance, and finally Shaun Crosby who delivered a confident performance as the German Dr Bessner, well maintained in accent and character throughout and certainly interacted well with the other passengers.

Agatha Christies plays are always good value for the audience, the clues are there if you know where to look and which red herrings to avoid, Well done to In Your Face Theatre Seaham for a convincing portrayal of this classic whodunit mystery.