Peter McGarry is an experienced,
independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to
review Talisman Theatre productions.
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The
Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content
of these reviews and will not comment
publicly on what he writes.
His name is Hercule Poirot. He's a Belgian....
The line comes early in the play, just to alleviate any doubts
that Miss Marple might come clumping into the library of elderly
inventor Sir Claud's stately London home.
Not that it would make much difference. Poirot, after all,
is just a male Marple with mannerisms and either would soon
be digging up the family dirt in time-honoured Agatha Christie
fashion to discover who did the old boy in.
The Christie phenomenon is immortal. Her characters are all
Cluedo types from a lost era of English society which never
really existed. She didn't so much write as create cunning
jigsaws. But however you classify it, her touch was pure Midas.
Today the theatrical challenge is to recreate ChristieWorld
in the true Thirties style of her glorious potboilers. And
the Talisman indeed strike gold with a potty period piece
which, when all is said and done on a wonderfully evocative
John Ellam centenary set, is truly great fun.
Director Christopher Ward and his team avoid all temptation
to play solely for laughs, thereby achieving full entertainment
value, even in the face of long stretches of explanatory dialogue.
We actually feel we need to listen....
Much hinges on Poirot, of course, now so embedded as the television
image of a shuffling, twittering, finicky David Suchet. So
it's absolutely full marks to Andrew Bayliss for creating
enough recognisable character quirks without making his Poirot
a carbon copy or, thankfully, a grating irritant. No small
He is splendidly backed by a formidable Ann Richards whose
fluttery spinster Miss Caroline provides joyful moments of
delirious eccentricity. This is a performance truly in the
mould of the late great Margaret Rutherford. And although
his appearance comes late on in the proceedings, Mick Ives
renders the so-often tedious police inspector role with a
splendidly resounding energy.
To round off an exquisite evening, we even have Sarah Moore's
frightened heroine at one point uttering the cherishable line:
"Oh no....no....not that...!"
As Hercule himself says: "The symmetry - it is everything."
In this case, right on, mon ami.