Review: Star-studded cast ramps up the tension at Chesterfield’s Pomegranate

Hercule Poirot returns to the stage in Agatha Christie's Black Coffee. Jason Durr is starring in the show when it comes to Newcastle's Theatre Royal.
Hercule Poirot returns to the stage in Agatha Christie's Black Coffee. Jason Durr is starring in the show when it comes to Newcastle's Theatre Royal.

A mysterious foreigner, a missing document, a bottle of poison. There’s even a butler. Murder is definitely afoot...

Add in a body halfway through Act One and the convenient arrival of a certain Belgian detective, and it has to be Agatha Christie. The play is Black Coffee, and it’s been attracting large audiences to the Pomegranate all week.

The large cast is well sprinkled with familiar faces from TV. Gary Mavers (Peak Practice, Casualty) plays the mysterious Italian. Deborah Grant (Peak Practice, Not Going Out) is a class act as a garrulous grande dame. Ben Nealon (Soldier Soldier) plays the murder victim’s debt-ridden son. Oliver Mellor (Coronation Street) is an ambitious secretary.

Robin McCallum’s Hastings is naïve and jolly. And star of the show for me was Felicity Houlbrooke as a thoroughly modern 1930s miss, in keeping with the Art Deco set.

Hercule Poirot himself (Heartbeat’s Jason Durr) captures the detective’s trademark twirly moustache, pomaded hair and prissy walk, but his accent is at times impenetrable. As for the rest – suffice to say, David Suchet is a hard act to follow.

So – will Inspector Japp (Eric Carte) work it out for himself? Did the butler do it?

See for yourself. It runs until Saturday. October 4, 2014

LYNNE PATRICK