‘Murder on the Nile’ is the 1944 murder mystery play by Agatha Christie, which is based on her 1937 novel ‘Death on the Nile’. The Hercule Poirot character from the novel is missing, and in the play is replaced by a church canon who investigates the murders, as we follow the trail of clues he slowly unravels.
The audience is welcomed into the theatre by one of the actors who plays a Nubian cabinboy, who then welcomes the cast of voyagers onto the steamer. Some very funny moments ensue has he beats away the hawkers who pester the passengers by pedalling them tat as they attempt to board the boat. The video backdrop of the river and ambient Egyptian soundscape help set the scene and the audience is drawn further and further into the story by learning the backstory of each character and how they are connected.
The drama is centred around honeymooners Simon Mostyn and his wealthy newlywed socialite wife Kay, who are travelling in order to escape a jilted old flame of Simon’s who has been pursuing them with vengeance on her mind. Jenny Draper, 28, from Purfleet gives a powerful performance playing Jacqueline de Severac, the vengeful ex-fiancée, as do the rest of the cast. Through Jenny’s dramatic portrayal of Jacqueline, you can quite believe how her character Jacqueline is consumed – almost to madness – by the loss of her fiance to her best friend Kay. There is a certain sadness about Jacqueline’s situation, and you begin to feel sorry for her later on.
Not all is as it seems when the first murder takes place, and it is fallen upon church Canon Pennefather’s responsibility to discover the reasons behind the murders and ultimately the perpetrator or perpetrators. Although Pennefather investigates the crimes, he also has a possible motive, and you are at some point left wondering about him also.
Murder On The Nile gives the audience everything it needs in a murder mystery. Characters that include a nasty autocratic dowager, enchanting young women and promises of romance which all enhance the twists and turns the story brings, much like the course of the Nile itself.
The big shame is that this play does not run for longer. It deserves every respect you’d get from a West End performance, from an extremely talented cast. I would gladly return to Brookside Theatre in Romford, which is only about 15 to 20 minutes away from Liverpool Street station on the overground and a short walk around the corner from Romford station. It has to be said, the staff here are exceptionally friendly and helpful, and local productions are always top-notch.
- Brookside Theatre, 6 Jun – 9 Jun 2018
- Company: The Brookside Theatre
- Director: Paula Harris Brett
- Tickets: Available at brooksidetheatre.com or 01708 755775
- Running time: 2 hrs 20 mins (including one 15 min interval)