8 May 2015
Vintage Christie: Pymble Players’ Caffeine Hit!
Playwright Agatha Christie was clearly a dame with an eye for detail and an appreciation of the delicacies of her day. Enter Christie’s world: 1930s upper-middle class England. The living room of Sir Claud Amory’s estate.
The action is all set in this room. A bit of a feat given the cast of 12! (Full credit to the crew who’ve meticulously recreated Christie’s world - down to the green wallpaper, and vintage telephone! More of the 30s theme music wouldn’t have gone astray as the audience entered the theatre too.)
In this “conventional spy-thriller”, expect stereotypes to be lightly shaken, but not overturned.
A formula is stolen, and a poisoner is at large, and everyone is a suspect - especially if they happen to be female or Italian. Or both. Old-fashioned characters are given free rein to express xenophobic tendencies, but Christie’s sense of irony is apparent when the “little Belgian detective” a.k.a. Hercule Poirot arrives on the scene, and everyone trusts him.
Director Jan McLachlan’s Hercule Poirot is taller, thinner, and much younger than audiences are used to, and why not? He is played with gentility and dry wit by 23-year-old Balthazar Gelos (“Trust in your old Poirot”.)
As foil to the ever-composed Poirot, Captain Hastings is ably played by Stephen Snars, and he quietly inhabits the stage. The unspoken one-liners between Poirot and Hastings are often the best. The only negative thing I can say is I found the romance that develops for Hastings later a little unconvincing, it didn’t ring true for his character.
The nuanced relationship between young lovers Richard and Lucia (David Prickett and Elizabeth Chambers) is quite lovely, especially their very British take on public displays of affection.
With a big ensemble cast it’s not surprising that some of the characters are outright obnoxious, but skilfully penned by Christie. Some of the laugh-out-loud lines are given to the outspoken Miss Caroline Amory, played beautifully by Lois Marsh, and the deadpanning housekeeper Mrs Tredwell (Jill Klopfer). As Sir Claud, James Burns makes a big impression, strutting the stage like an inter-war general, before quickly exiting the drama. The young Barbara Amory (Susan Farrell) flutters in and out like a beautiful, mischievous moth in full 1930s garb. And who wouldn’t sparkle in those costumes? Jim Burns brings fresh energy at the end as the bumbling Inspector Japp.
Watch for the transformation in one suspect when Hercule Poirot mentions blackmail. Also look out for the waltz that ensues around the handling of the infamous cup of black coffee.
If you like high drama, fancy a 1930s romp, and purely for the visual spectacle…don’t miss Pymble Players’ Black Coffee.
View the Black Coffee Preview
Playing until May 30
Season: May 6 - May 30 (click on upcoming events for exact dates and times.)
Address: Mona Vale Road & Bromley Avenue, Pymble NSW 2073
Full Price $25, Concessions $22 + booking fee of $1.20 per ticket.
Refreshments and programme are included.