Chichester Festival Theatre – until 4 June 2022
Reviewed by Gill Gardiner
A hugely entertaining adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel for theatre by Ken Ludwig; a masterly performance by Henry Goodman as Poirot with a superb supporting cast including Patrick Robinson (Monsieur Blanc), Samuel Collins (Hector MacQueen), Laura Rogers (Countess Andrenyi) and Sara Stewart (Helen Hubbard).
This is the first time the novel has been adapted for stage in Europe. From a book very heavy on detail, the play manages to successfully condense the plot whilst maintaining the sense of mystery as well as the quirkiness of the characters.
For me, Henry Goodman was the perfect Poirot for a stage adaptation. He manages to infuse humour into the character adding to the theatrical entertainment without losing the sense of the seriousness of the crime he is trying to solve or the moral dilemma that he faces as he gets closer to the solution. A stand out performance.
The set is also impressive. The opulence of an Istanbul restaurant in the opening scenes contrasts sharply with the chill of a broken down train in a snowstorm where an impressive huge train at the back of the stage allows for more flexible staging at the front. The impression of the train is never lost incorporating the geographical relationship between the compartments essential for the plot. Snow falling around the borders of the stage helps to set the scene. Never before in the theatre have I experienced spontaneous applause for the scenery.
First class entertainment, mystery, intrigue, and stand out performances. A memorably murderous evening out, highly recommended whether you are a fan of Agatha Christie or not .