David Suchet: Poirot and More, A Retrospective Review

Leeds Playhouse – Thursday 7th March 2024

Reviewed by Janina Cairns


The amazing David Suchet is playing for the first time ever here in Leeds. For those of you who are not familiar with who he is, David Suchet is a renowned actor whose career spans over 55 years. He has held a variety of fascinating and diverse roles, including Shakespeare plays and even an episode of Dr Who, but he is probably most well known for playing Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, of which there were around 70 episodes spanning approx. 20 years.

He has never in his career played Leeds and he has 2 shows here, 7th and 8th March, before he finishes his tour on Sunday in Cardiff on 10th March. Leeds Playhouse is charity built cultural hub which has been producing leading productions for more than 50 years. The Playhouse is a wonderful maze-like theatre on different levels. Our performance tonight was in the “Courtyard” and it is small enough to ensure every member of the audience feels part of the show. The show was 2 and a half hours but did not feel that long at all. The evening flew by.

We started the evening with David Suchet sitting with his good friend Geoffrey Wansell. Geoffrey, through an interview-like conversation, takes us on a captivating journey through David Suchet’s life. The authentic friendship between himself, and his friend Geoffrey is very clear.

Geoffrey would occasionally throw in some prompts and David will then smile at the memory before he regales us with the story. Mr Suchet warmly gives us the privilege, through these stories, of seeing the man behind the characters he has played, in an intimate, conversational setting, as he gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear the amazing tales of his life. He starts with his school performances, how his teachers helped him shape his future. He speaks fondly of his family and their support, and we learn how his mother’s part in that support is greatly missed.

He talks about his struggles and his persistence throughout the early years. He talks about his love of Shakespear, language, working with directors and of course Hercule Poirot. He explains why his version of the character, Poirot, was important to him and how he felt Agatha Christie would want the authentic portrayal of said character. We learn further on how he created the iconic version, from Poirot’s mannerisms to costume to his walk, and lastly how he got his accent. His attention to detail in ALL his characters over the years is admirable.

The setting of this wonderful show tonight was perfect for the subject matter. The size of the theatre’s room made the evening feel very intimate and gave you the sense that he was talking just to a group of friends after a dinner. He was funny, engaging, mesmerising and very personable. Even though he was “in conversation” he still owned that stage. Considering tonight was very close to the end of this tour, you would not know it. He speaks with such relish, excitement, freshness and fondness.

A warm-hearted, engaging, amusing evening.