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Here you'll find updates from film sets, broadcast dates, publishing news and other announcements from the world of Agatha Christie ...
16 Jul 12 3:00PM
Yesterday afternoon I was very privileged to witness an exclusive performance of Black Coffee. Produced and presented by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, in aid of Chichester Festival Theatre's restoration fund, this staged reading featured a remarkable cast including none other than David Suchet as Hercule Poirot!
1000 expectant faces waited in anticipation as the row of chairs on stage filled with the great and the good. ACTC's Artistic Director Joe Harmston (who had met his wife while working at Chichester!) introduced the afternoon's entertainment: we were to see a rehearsed reading of the only play written by Agatha Christie to feature Hercule Poirot. Due to the short rehearsal period, this traditional play was to be performed in the manner of a live broadcast of a BBC radio play - as ACTC had performed three of Christie's radio plays before - actors in evening dress would read from scripts in front of floor standing microphones with live sound effects produced by a Foley man opening and shutting doors and dropping suitcases ... Wonderful!
There was an intake of breath as Poirot made his entrance - David Suchet in full costume - his mincing walk and immaculate attire could be seen in 360 degree perfection. The Poirot live on stage before my eyes. Of course the acting by all the cast was excellent, particularly Susie Blake as the victim's sister and Olivia Darnley as Miss Amory and the simplicity of the set really allowed Christie's voice to shine through strongly. Hastings, played by David Yelland, had some great lines and there were the usual number of laughs and gasps but this really was David's moment. To quote another long-time Christie fan I was sitting next to:
"It really was one of those big events. I just wasn't prepared to have Poirot quite so vividly brought to life. You realise how limiting film is when you actually observe how David occupied him and the space [so effectively] ... His performance just seemed to grow and grow"
Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie's grandson who also attended the performance told me that he felt it was a truly memorable afternoon. "An immaculate, authentic piece of Christie history, surprisingly powerful, occasionally humourous, and genuinely suspenseful at the end. How do you beat that? Well, we, and David Suchet, will have to try!"
After the denouement, we were all asked if we would like to stay on for a fascinating Q and A session with David and Joe Harmston, the director. I think almost everybody did! David was at his entertaining best: relieved to finish playing Poirot? No - grateful and sad. A real sense of accomplishment. And 25 years of playing Poirot (by the time filming on the last 5 novels finishes next year) had raised his theatre profile and had enabled him to take on some fantastic parts such as his favourite role at Chichester: Cardinal Bellini in "The Last Confession". His favourite Christie case and why? Ultimately, The ABC Murders - Poirot shows such brilliance in his lateral thinking. Murder on the Orient Express however snapping at its heels - such a dark novel in which Poirot goes through such agonies of emotion. And would Hugh Fraser return to take his side in any of the last films? David couldn't speak for Hugh or for ITV but he knew that discussions were taking place and he very much hoped it would be so ... I think I speak for all of us fans when I say hear! hear!
The cast was as follows:
Miss Caroline Amory
Sir Claud Amory
Captain Arthur Hastings
I asked Mr Suchet if it had been recorded for posterity, but he said no. He said the people in the audience that day would be the only ones to see or hear the play. I can tell you that the post~show talk is on YOUTUBE. There were no cameras present or recording equipment, so the 1000 people there that day were exceptionally priviledged. It's a shame because it would have made a beautiful bonus on the COMPLETE COLLECTION BOX SET when all the films are made!!
I don't suppose that there was any recording of the event to be released to the general public? Thank you.
I was there too, a fantastic day, and When the clock chimed and all the cast turned to the door and Poirot entered . . . well the atmosphere was electric! Surreal and exciting is how i would sum it up.
David Suchet read his part to perfection. The post~show talk was such an added treat too, with David "finally" getting a standing ovation.
Waited at the stage door and talked with David for a few minutes, got an autograph and a photo too. A perfect day, one i will cherish forever.
I would've loved to have been in the audience for Black Coffee. David Suchet is my favorite actor and to see him in a play as Poirot would've been a privilege!
Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on Soldier Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear.Murder on the Orient Express
Travelling on the Orient Express, Poirot is approached by a desperate American. Afraid that someone plans to kill him, Ratchett asks Poirot for help ...The Murder at the Vicarage
When the thoroughly unpleasant Lucius Protheroe is found dead, there is no shortage of suspects with a motive for murder ...
Masthead Photography: Joan Hickson image © BBC
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