Murder On The Nile
JOYCE MCMILLAN on MURDER ON THE NILE at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, for The Scotsman, 26.6.12
3 stars ***
THE TIME is around 1930, and the place is a Nile cruise ship populated by the usual cast of characters. There’s an heiress with a new husband, a vengeful ex-fiancee, a dotty old aunt with a pretty niece-companion, a young Englishman in rebellion against his birthright, a doctor with a German accent, and a canon of the Church of England. And the servants, of course.
Yet somehow, in its seventh year, Joe Harmston’s Agatha Christie Theatre Company – part of the Bill Kenwright touring stable – has developed such a way with the work of the mistress of crime that they can tick all the traditional boxes of Agatha Christie production, and still give the stories a strangely contemporary feel. In this case, the cruise ship makes its way through an Egypt riven with unrest, and short of tourists; and the passengers are themselves divided between those who placidly accept the extreme inequalities of wealth back home in Britain, and those with every reason to detest both the pretty heiress, Kay Mostyn, and the financier father whose dodgy deals founded her fortune.
The play is oddly structured, and ends in a strange revelatory dialogue between just two characters, with the rest – including the murderer – bafflingly absent. With an ever-glamorous Kate O’Mara offering a fine comic turn as the gin-toping aunt, though, and Dennis Lill stroking his beard as clerical sleuth Canon Pennefather, this latest Agatha Christie show offers a good-looking, amusing and occasionally thought-provoking entertainment, for a warm summer evening.