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Murder on the Nile/Malvern Theatres
JACK the Ripper may well have been the first serial killer of the modern age but celebrated mistress of crime Agatha Christie most certainly went one stage further.
For the queen of whodunnit single-handedly created the genre of the serial suspects. This is the scenario in which any one of a number of individuals comprising a disparate group of people – almost invariably thrown together by circumstances – could have done the dirty deed.
And Murder on the Nile is an absolute classic of the form… for not only are the protagonists trapped by the confines of a river boat but they are also equally all held prisoners of conscience by their own pasts.
And in some cases, these are indeed murkier than the mighty Nile itself.
The Agatha Christie Company’s annual outing to Malvern rarely produces any real surprises for the hard-core fans but never fails to come up with new ways of making old stories seem fresh off the press. And therein dwells its eternal appeal… Cruising on board a steamer beneath the scorching Egyptian sun, two honeymooners find themselves pursued by an old flame of the groom who adds even more heat to the sweltering claustrophobia below decks.
Of course, we all know that tragedy can be no more than the turn of a paddle wheel away – and sure enough, it’s not long before a body is discovered.
Striding the stage we have a cast of equals, with Chloe Newsome, Susie Amy, Ben Nealon and Denis Lill contributing some fabulous character acting throughout a fast-paced action that ranges from cabin to quarterdeck.
Meanwhile, Kate O’Mara – never to be outdone – consistently maintains the legendary, withering owl stare that was always capable of sinking an Arab dhow at 30 oars’ lengths.
Last but by no means least, the plays of Agatha Christie are probably a strange refuge in which to find a former pop star, but they have most certainly provided a fitting billet for Mark Wynter.
He always contributes much to the company’s work and the haughtiness of his character provides a perfect counterpoint to the many machinations of the more measured Lill.
Murder on the Nile runs at Malvern Theatres until Saturday, March 31. It’s real edge-of-your-seat stuff and shouldn’t be missed.