Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee

Agatha Christie's Black Coffee - ChesterfieldTheatres
Black Coffee is an Agatha Christie novel turned into a play. Jason Durr played the great Hercule Poirot!

Black Coffee was first produced as a play back in the 1930s. The Belgian detective Agatha Christie created would go on to appear in more than 30 novels alone!

Black Coffee starts off in a stately living room, Lord Amory (Ric Recate) knows someone has stolen a formula of his. He gives that person an opportunity to give the formula back without any penalty, otherwise he has called for the great Hercule Poirot to unearth the thief! The lights will go out, giving time for the person to leave the formula on the table. But when the lights resume Lord Amory is found dead! He has been poisoned!

Who did it?! Was it Lucia Amory (Georgina Leonidas) the wife of his son Richard (Ben Nealon)? Lucia left dinner early and was milling about in the living room. She also listened to a conversation about poisons with the Italian doctor Dr Carelli (Gary Mavers). Did Lucia take some from the doctor’s bag and put some in the glass?

Was it Richard who might not be such a loyal son? Does Dr Carelli want the formula for himself?

Now Hercule Poirot must use all his cunning, skill and those ‘little grey cells’ to unearth the killer and bring them to justice!

This was a brilliant play, Jason Durr captured most of the mannerisms of Poirot perfectly. He was the gem and although his appearance delayed, it was worth the wait! There have been other actors who have played the sleuth, but I felt Jason brought his own take. Particularly the noises of disapproval if Hastings did something wrong!

Gary Mavers (Peak Practice, Unknown Soldier) had a great Italian accent and played the shifty flirty doctor to perfection.

It does leave you guessing, as I hadn’t come across this particular story about Poirot before, I’ve seen the main ones which for me would be Evil Under The Sun and Death On The Nile.

Poirot and his friend Capt. Hastings (Robin McCallum) had great chemistry and played off each other brilliantly.

Inspector Japp was okay (Eric Carte) but wasn’t really needed, any police officer would’ve done.

Caroline Amory (Deborah Grant) provided some good comedy moments as a dotty old woman who would prattle on when it was clear everybody in the room wanted her to leave. She could talk for hours!

The only problems were very minor ones. The theme tune was too slow and felt dragged out. There were two ten minutes intervals which prolonged the play. I didn’t really understand why there were two intervals.

The beginning of the play also dawdled for me but once it got going, I found myself engrossed in what was going on. The Amory family was very dysfunctional!

In the program I read, Agatha Christie was apparently getting fed up with the character of Poirot. I can’t imagine why, the sleuth is one of the best characters of our time. So complex and clever. I’d be over the moon to have created him.

I am giving this play 9/10. Bravo! and Encore!

Image reproduced by: Chesterfield Theatre.

Verdict – Cambridge Arts Theatre

The Agatha Christie Company proudly presents Verdict, one of the most riveting and compelling dramas by Agatha Christie, the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime.’ With an all-star cast, this gripping play will captivate the crowds of Cambridge when it performs at the Cambridge Arts Theatre from 11 April to 16 April 2011.

Following the huge success of The Hollow, The Unexpected Guest, And Then There Were None, Spider’s Web, and most recently Witness For The Prosecution, the Agatha Christie Theatre Company is coming to Cambridge to entertain and enthral theatre-goers at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, one of the region’s most exciting Arts venues.

The all-star cast is led by Dawn Steele, from the hit BBC drama Monarch of the Glen and the popular ITV series Wild at Heart. She is joined by Ali Bastian (The Bill, Strictly Come Dancing, Hollyoaks), Peter Byrne (Dixon of Dock Green), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter film series), Elizabeth Power (Eastenders) and Sixties teen idol Mark Wynter.

Verdict tells the story of the brilliant and idealistic Professor Karl Hendryk who, having been forced to flee persecution in his home country, leads a content and morally upstanding life with his invalid wife. The prospect of a life-saving treatment for her persuades him to take on a new pupil against his better judgement.

Professor Hendryk’s world is then turned upside-down by this new pupil, Helen – a spoilt, scheming minx who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. After a terrible murder leads to a tense court case, the anticipation of the verdict about to be delivered has us on the edge of our seats as we hold our breaths as we wait and see if justice will be served.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Box Office on 01223 503 333 and are subject to a £2 booking fee.