Fringe Box



Murder on the Nile – Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 2 May, 2012
Updated on: 6 May, 2012

By The Stage Dragon

All on board for a risky cruise

Disappointment awaits those hoping for an appearance from Hercule Poirot but not for long: this is not ‘Death On The Nile’, but ‘Murder on the Nile’. The Nile is a crime hotspot it would seem.

Agatha Christie’s ‘inspector’ for this story comes in the form of Canon Pennefather, a holidaying minister, also one of the guest’s guardians, who finds himself drawn into a web of mistrust and deceit. Alongside an assortment of archetypal Agatha Christie characters, he provides the plot to Murder On The Nile.

Set on the Nile paddle steamer, Lotus, in the early 1930’s this classic Christie play is somewhat dated. With antiquated references to Gin Fizz, various social classes and the demeaning calls of ‘boy’ addressed to deck staff whose role it is to perpetually wait on the guests. Nevertheless, with the aid of some atmospheric sound effects as you enter the auditorium you are able to place yourself in the shoes of a guest on board the steamer and can watch with ease as the cast arrive on the elaborate set, establishing their characters and their individual motives to this ‘whodunit’.

Miss ffoliot-ffoulkes aka Kate O'Mara

As newlyweds Simon and Kay Mostyn escape to Egypt for their honeymoon, they are followed by Simon’s ditched fiancée and Kay’s ex-best friend, Jacqueline who seems intent on ruining their fun. The snobby Miss ffoliot-ffoulkes, played by Kate O’Mara controls her doting niece Christina throughout whilst William Smith tries to win Christina’s affections.

The first stand-out performance comes from Denis Lill who is a pleasure to watch as he leads the cast, playing Canon Pennefather. One particular scene in which he captures the audience is while he sits deducing the mystery, towards the end of the second act. He has no lines and yet we are able to understand exactly his thought process simply through his body language and movements.

The second outstanding performance can be found in Chloe Newsome’s portrayal of Jacqueline de Severac. Emotive, charismatic and poised even during a scene in which Jacqueline, has clearly had too much to drink, Newsome creates a love/hate personality which is perfect for this character.

Susie Amy as Kay Mostyn has a rather bizarre speech quality which, I assume she creates to sound slightly more mature, with a good RP accent which actually results in her dragging the otherwise quick pace and taking away feeling from the lines. Susie Amy, however did look the part, she unfortunately just wasn’t convincing as the socialite Kay.

There were also a couple of curious breaks in the middle of both Acts, for which I couldn’t quite work out their purpose. My conclusion was to show time had elapsed upon the steamer, however it stunted both pace and atmosphere – there were even a couple of audience members who left their seats thinking it was the interval, only to be ushered back in embarrassment.

While Murder On The Nile is not a play I’d typically choose to see, if you do find yourself free one evening between now and Saturday 5th May, it is an enjoyable way to pass the time and why not see if you could be the next Canon Pennefather or Miss Marple?

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