Theater Review: Murder on the Nile

I love Agatha Christie and I love the theater so when a friend of mine told me that NC State was performing three Agatha Christie plays over the summer I was very excited. My excitement was in no way lessened when I went to see the first play, A Murder is Announced. I loved most things about it, and I would probably give it four stars out of five (the missing star is due to the fact that I didn’t like the way the detective was played and thought that the villain was played in a very obviously creepy way).

Yesterday I went to see what I thought was Death on the Nile, one of Christie’s classics with her greatest detective Hercule Poirot. I walk in to the theater with two friends who are also Christie fans and we sit down and wait for the play to begin. The set is fantastic and we had pretty good seats so we’re feeling pretty good. An announcement comes to turn off cell phones and the play begins.

It starts off well with most of the actors doing pretty well. And then, and then the victim enters. The basic plot of Death on the Nile for those who don’t know is that this rich young woman (Linnet)’s best friend (Jackie) is getting married and she(Jackie, that is not Linnet) asks Linnet to give her fiancee (Simon) a job. Linnet does so, and Simon ends up breaking up with Jackie and marrying Linnet. Jackie, as one might assume, is less than happy about this and begins to stalk Linnet and Simon as they go on their honeymoon in Egypt. One night on a cruise ship Linnet is murdered in the very way that Jackie had wanted to kill her earlier. However Jackie cannot have done it, so who did? It’s up to the world famous  detective Hercule Poirot to figure it out before anyone else is killed.

Yeah, so here’s the problem: the play was not Death On the Nile–it was Murder on The Nile. In Murder on The Nile World famous detective Hercule Poirot is replaced by random clergyman  Cannon Something-or-other. Yeah I can’t even remember his last name even though I saw it last night. In the book it makes sense for Poirot to handle the case, as he’s actually…you know… a detective. In this play the authorities on the ship seem  to be totally incompetent since the clergyman is also a suspect.  In fact, in the book, he (or rather the character he’s based on), was one of the prime suspects  for the murder.

Also, Jackie, poor poor Jackie. By far the most interesting character in the novel. However in the play well…..how about I use an example? The night of the murder Jackie is in the Saloon of the ship and is totally drunk. She is yelling at Simon and finally pulls out a gun and shoots him in the leg. This is a very dramatic scene that is Jackie’s crescendo.  It’s when she just can’t take any more. It’s a very dramatic scene in the novel. So how does the actress playing Jackie in the play decide to play it? By yelling a non-stop string of words at a very high pitch with no inflection.

Anyway, to sum up, did not live up to my expectations.  Add to the fact that the main actress couldn’t act and that they got rid of the detective in a MURDER MYSTERY and a terrible script and you will never have a good play.

I am going to see the final play in this series in a few days and I am really looking forward to it and I am really hoping that I just saw an off night for “Murder” on the Nile.

NC State Theater Fest 2010

A Murder Is Announced: 8/10

Murder on The Nile: 4/10

Spider’s web: ?/10

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