BWW Review: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS at The Everyman Theatre
The Everyman Theatre travels with style and panache in their chic production of Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Who knew a murder mystery would prove to be the perfect escape from the holiday whirlwind?
Adapted by playwright Ken Ludwig, this is the first time this classic of crime has appeared on the stage. Director Vincent M. Lancisi creates a delightful detour from reality. It is quite a feat to orchestrate all the moving parts of the story with its shifts in locales, costumes, characters and clues. Lancisi meets and exceeds the challenge.
In the 1930s, the Orient Express had established itself as the ultimate luxury train. The wealthy traveled between Paris and Istanbul (then Constantinople) in lavishly outfitted cars with superb cuisine and top-notch service.
When famed detective Hercule Poirot gets called back to London from Istanbul, he manages to snag a ticket on this luxe express. Where Poirot goes, murder is never far behind. When the peculiar parade of passengers finds themselves embroiled in an unexpected whodunit, it's up to Poirot to solve the murder and save the reputation of the famous train.
The cast thoroughly enjoys taking the audience along for the ride. They navigate all the costume and set changes with ease. Bruce Randolph Nelson expertly handles the famous role of the precise and eccentric Poirot. The travelers include brash American businessman Samuel Ratchett (Danny Gavigan), the aptly named Russian Princess Dragonmiroff (Helen Hedman), medically proficient Countess Andrenyi (Lilian Oben), American heiress and permanent party girl Mrs. Helen Hubbard (Deborah Hazlett) , mystery nanny Mary Debenham (Hannah Kelly), and Greta Olson (Beth Hilton) of the curdling scream. Bourbon lover Hector McQueen (Tony Nam), veteran train conductor Michel (M. Scott McLean), anxious Monsieur Bouc (Jefferson A. Russell) and Scottish Colonel Arbuthnot (Danny Gavigan doing double duty) round out the energetic cast who somehow manage to keep the story rolling along with perfect clarity.
It is a treat to see this family of actors come together with elegance and ease in Lancisi's beautifully choreographed dance of death. Despite the murder, there is plenty of humor to accompany the crime. Christie created the modern murder mystery displaying sly wit and satirical commentary along with methodical investigative procedures.
"Queen of Crime" Christie remains the best selling novelist of all time. The structure of her stories wherein a murder occurs, multiple suspects are frequently trapped together and mostly harboring secrets that are gradually discovered as the detective unravels clues and finally gathers them all together for the big reveal. She often writes of a more genteel time between the world wars where one remained polite and well-dressed even in the midst of murderous events. It is a great comfort to be transported into this elegant atmosphere where even crime cannot shatter the structure and style of civility.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS plays now through January 11th at the Everyman Theatre located at 315 West Fayette Street. For more information call 410-752-2208 or go online to everymantheatre.org