Tallahassee Little Theatre to present Agatha Christie murder mystery play
Jan 8, 2010, Tallahassee, FL
Agatha Christie’s classic British who-dun-it ‘Black Coffee’ will be premiering at the Tallahassee Little Theatre. Christie, known for such thrilling murder mystery novels as Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile wrote ‘Black Coffee’ as her first stage play in 1930. Despite its crime thriller genre status, subtle humor abounds throughout the play, including a light-hearted jab at a puritan Victorian-era belief that babies were found under gooseberry bushes.
Believing someone in his family has stolen his secret formula for a brand new atomic explosive; Sir Claud locks his French windows to keep everyone in the house until the arrival of Beglian detective Hercule Poirot and Captain Arthur Hastings who will conduct a thorough investigation and inquiry of any and all suspects.
Set in Sir Claud’s ornate English home, the play opens with several of the characters tending to Lucia Amory, who is recovering from an apparent near-fainting spell. Upon the arrival of a foreign acquaintance of Lucias’, an Italian doctor named Carelli, Richard Amory, Sir Claud’s son, begins to question his wife’s fidelity, believing that she is having an affair with Carelli.
Barbara Amory, Sir Claud’s niece, rummages through a box containing a “motley collection” of hospital supplies and several strong poisons including strychnine, a common pesticide, and hyoscine hydrobromide, a poison which If consumed results in a “swift, dreamless sleep with no awakening”, according to Dr. Carelli.
Several of the characters throughout the play fumble with a window locked by one of Sir Claud’s ingenious devices, thus increasing the mounting tension in a room of distrusting and self-motivated individuals. Sir Claud is dead by the time Detective Poirot arrives at the scene and the theory of a presumed heart attack as the cause of death is quickly thrown out the window when some pills from the hospital supply box are discovered to be missing. What results then is an edge-of-your-seat spectacle, diving into the characters fears, secrets and dreams before the culprit is uncovered in a surprise twist ending.
“I am very appreciative of getting a very strong cast, most are seasoned performers” said Director Lanny Thomas. Thomas’ goal in the production was to utilize the talent of the performers to bring out the subtle quirks of each character.
Particularly because Detective Poirot and Captain Hastings appear as best friends in a number of Christies’ works, it was important for Thomas to remove the preconceptions audiences may have about both men through their representations in her novels.
“Everyone has secrets about everyone else in the play, they are all hiding from each other” said Thomas. An interesting array of characters – mysterious foreign men, liberal females with a taste for gossip and staunch male traditionalists lends even more excitement to an already thrilling detective story.
The talent of the actors in the play also serves to highlight the more ironic elements of appearance vs. reality, the problems of fickle gossip, and a fixation on untrue stereotypes that are explored throughout the play.
Audiences will be treated to a new taste of Poirot and Hastings brought out by actors Jim McMurtry and Ben Taylor, respectively. The cast includes Laura Johnson as Lucia Amory, Travis Young as Richard Amory, Art Wallace as Dr. Carelli, and Chuck Olsen as Sir Claud Amory.
The production runs from Jan 28 until Feb 14 at the Tallahassee Little Theatre on 1861 Thomasville Road. Tickets are $20 for adults and $16 for students and seniors. For tickets please call the box office at 850-224-8474 from 10-4pm on Mon-Fri.
For more information about this or any upcoming Tallahassee Little Theatre productions, please call 850-224-4597.