On their ninth production, The Agatha Christie Theatre Company are seasoned professionals at staging the classic stories from the great murder mystery author. After last year’s tour of Verdict, the company have certainly not disappointed with a great injection of new life into the great story of Murder on the Nile.
The story starts with each character boarding the ship in their own unique fashion, a chance for the audience to check out their interactions with one another and, for savvy murder-mystery-going audiences, work out who the killer could be.
The principal murder victim is newlywed Kay Mostyn (Susie Amy), who has been followed around on her honeymoon by ex best friend Jacqueline de Severac, played perfectly by Chloe Newsome, after betraying her by marrying her lover, Simon Mostyn (Ben Nealon).
Kate O’Mara stars as the snooty, upper-class Miss ffoliot-ffoulkes who adds some much needed light heartedness into the script (which at times can be slow) with her attitude and behaviour that certainly do not sit well with other characters, Max Hutchinson’s William Smith, for example, who has a habit of shouting and over-projecting his lines.
Whilst O’Mara brings class to the boat, the real stand out performance comes from Denis Lill as Canon Pennefather. Particularly in his interesting monologue whereby he discovers exactly whodunit and how, his impressive skills in staging how exactly the tale unravels are believable and impressive, the information he discovers is portrayed in a simplistic, yet thought-out display that allows the audience in on the murderer.
Simon Scullion’s set design of a two-deck paddle steamed named Louts serves its purpose as a great backdrop for the cast, albeit slightly simple and somewhat dated.
A truly entertaining script and plot that kept the audience gripped all night, waiting for the climax and reveal of the murderer with a cast that were, at times, slightly lacklustre, could not deter away from the brilliant story-telling of Agatha Christie.
Murder on the Nile plays at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre until Saturday May 26.