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Black Coffee

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 20 August 2004

Black Coffee

This Agatha Christie tale is an acquired tatste. So is the elegant Hercule Poirot, solving the mystery with his little grey cells, his deliciously old-fashioned sidekick Hastings and hapless Inspector Japp.

However, in the confident hands of the Maddermarket company under Tim Seely’s deft direction the familiar came alive

The intimacy of the theatre draws us into the country house library and the plot – albeit dated, resting on dinner jackets, poison, blackmail, a stolen formula for a new weapon and copious red herrings – was strangely comforting.

The denouement is vintage Christie, bringing the strands and twists together in a satisfying way.

Humour in both script and direction plays to the full, ranging from the stylish self-deprecation of the characters to the running jokes about foreigners from a 1930s’ perspective.

“intelligent, you know, some of these foreigners,” contrasts with the hero’s cry, “I am everywhere taken for an Englishman.”

John Mangan as Poirot makes the famous mannerisms his own, while the company sparkles in polished support to make a riveting evening, a modern interpretation of a period piece seven decades old.

The packed house loved it, and warmed especially to Dawn Brindle and Hugh Roberts, while Natasha Purwin brought an alluring presence to the stage.

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