Murder on the Nile (Plymouth - tour)
On Simon Scullion’s excellent set – the observation deck of the Nile cruiser the Lotus – the somewhat lacklustre cast generally ham it up with the ubiquitous Kate O'Mara providing light comedy as the acerbic Miss ffoliot-ffoulkes whose self-centred snobbery is just one device to illustrate the microcosm of 1930s society which gathers aboard with varying financial needs waiting to be revealed.
We know what to expect and that is what we get – a somewhat pedestrian whodunnit which the now-sophisticated amateur sleuths among the sparse audience (possibly more an indication of the Jubilee weekend than a measure of popularity) solve well ahead of the Poirot sub, the carefully measured Canon Pennefather (Denis Lill).
Lill (Only Fools and Horses, Dr Who) gives by far and away the most compelling performance and handles the ponderous denouncement monologue well.
Relative newcomer Max Hutchinson is rather loud and brash as the downwardly aspiring William Smith – but that may be a clever parody of 30s acting directed by Company Artistic Director Joe Harmston – while Footballers’ Wives’ Susie Amy and Chloe Newsome (Corrie’s Victoria Arden/McDonald) are the love interests - Kay Mostyn and Jacqueline de Severac respectively - of a somewhat wooden Simon Mostyn (Ben Nealon, Lt Forsythe in Soldier Soldier).
The ninth production by the stalwart Company, the scripting introduces the characters well and red herrings are strewn widely but the any simmering impetus is lost as the curtain falls for rather long between scenes.