York Theatre Royal – 13 October 2021
Reviewed by Dawn Bennett
David Suchet, the actor probably best known for his portrayal of the Agatha Christe’s Poirot for 25 years, gave us in the audience an insight into his life as probably one of the best character actors there is.
David was interviewed by Geoffrey Wansell, himself an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who he met on the set of a 20th Century Fox film, in 1988, where Geoffrey was Executive Producer. As Geoffrey explained they have been friends ever since and this made for a relaxed, insightful journey through Davids life and career.
He took us through his early life, and how his family particularly his mum and Grandmother Elsie where very supportive of his career in the Arts.
He told us about his teacher telling his parents that he might “have a bit of talent” for being on the stage, getting a place at the National Youth Theatre at 16 and how he auditioned for Drama School and eventually, after a few knockbacks, gaining a place at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
David spoke of his various roles from his first at school being an oyster in Alice Through the Looking Glass, his time at The Royal Shakespeare company though to his many roles on stage and screen roles such as Freud, Cardinal Benelli, Blott and of course Hercule Poirot. He tells us how he was cast as the famous Belgian Detective, how he met Christie’s daughter and Husband and how he developed the walk, accent, mannerisms and how he had a long list of character notes that helped him turn into the Poirot that we see on screen. He explained how he stayed in character as Poirot when filming and even when the cameras weren’t rolling. We even got to see Poirot’s cane!
In the second half David gave us a masterclass in acting Shakespeare, he explained how the different ways the plays were written could come across in the speech from using words that sounded like the action they were describing like bash, buzz, hum etc (onomatopoeias) and what the voice print was. I really wish I’d had him as my teacher!
He treated us to short excerpts by Tybalt, Oberon and Shylock by just using his voice and expression and you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. Just proving again what a magnificent actor, he is.
Finally, he showed us how he turned his voice into Poirot’s and as an avid watcher of the series I thought was just amazing.
Anyone studying acting, theatre or just a fan of fabulous acting I would very much recommend seeing Sir David Suchet if you can.