I have a rule I apply to all Agatha Christie plays: if you find yourself cast in one, pray you are the first to die. This then affords you the opportunity of being able to sit back and enjoy the comically absurd reactions to your death. And here’s a tip- if anyone shows the slightest bit of emotion or regret, they probably killed you.
Armed with this knowledge I headed off to the Genesian Theatre on Saturday night to see their production of ‘Murder on the Nile’, directed by Nanette Frew. The production manages to find a balance between not taking itself too seriously and not obviously sending itself up too much either. The play’s inherent racism is alive and well and it does make you want to grab the gun and kill a few characters yourself (how on earth did Miss ffoliot-ffoulkes not die within the first few seconds?)
But the cast tackle the show with aplomb, especially veteran actor Michael Barnacoat (Canon Pennyfather), who is the glue that binds the events, backstories and characters. Yes- there’s a few guffaws too many, some stilted lines and accents and a bit of sound effects work in the first half that sounded like Egypt was being bombed and didn’t quite make sense but at least it drowned out the commentary from the old couple in Row G who were narrating their ideas on what was going to happen. God bless them and their dinner that they ate during the show.
I still found the play entertaining and it was a fun piece of theatrical fluff. Special mention to the set designer, Owen Gimblett for a fantastic visual creation of the boat (complete with smoke), beautifully juxtaposing the touristy tackiness of its bright colours and lines yet trying to look authentic in this foreign environment. There was a nice use of contrast of class, some very good comic timing and the pacing of the show felt right.
If you had have told me that I would come out of watching an Agatha Christie play and have enjoyed it, I would have told you that you were crazy. I used to run out of the room screaming every time my mother forced us to watch Miss Marple on a Friday night. But I did enjoy ‘Murder on the Nile’ and the infectious joy performing it as shown by its cast.
So if you want a harmless bit of fun, catch it before the season ends.