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Theatre 40 Offers a Delectable Black Coffee

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Black Coffee by Agatha Christie directed by Bruce Gray Theatre 40 through August 1

There's only one mystery writer, in my book, who has managed to capture and enthrall the hearts of millions through the past century, the one and only Agatha Christie. Her plays, like the longest running play on the West End The Mousetrap as well as this early hit Black Coffee, not only keep audience on the edge of their seats, guessing whodunit, but are as entertaining and fun as all get out, particularly when led by the devilishly fun Miss Marple, or in this case, the unparalleled Hercule Poirot. Theatre 4o's handsome production of Black Coffee is a real treat with a stellar ensemble.

Without the perfect choice for Hercule Poirot, despite the mix of other wonderful characters, the play cannot function at top-notch speed. Thanks to the marvelous Tom Dugan, Poirot is in great hands. He is dapper, quick-thinking as well as quick-witted and marvelously droll. He is meticulous with every detail. Fun to watch as well is LizAnne Keigley as Aunt Charlotte Amory. She has the gift of gab and makes the woman a fascinating supporting character. Beautiful Shelby Kocee plays Lucia, a difficult role to essay, as it is not always clear just how guilty this woman may be, but Kocee is sincere and straightforward in her approach. Katharine McEwan is also a delight as the seductive Barbara. Randy Vasquez makes a deviously intriguing Carelli, Nicholas Hosking is ever so appealing as the fumbling assistant to Poirot, Hastings, and Corey Rieger makes another difficult character Richard, Lucia's new husband, as interesting and likeable as humanly possible. Completing the formidable group are Lary Ohlson as Raynor, Don Moss as Japp, David Hunt Staffford as Sir Claud, and John McGuire as Treadwell, all terrific. And, not to be forgotten are Christy Holy in her brief scene as Dr. Graham and Tim Astor who did double duty as Constable and the butler Treadwell at the matinee I attended. Apparently McGuire was indisposed, but it provided a delightful adlib in a later scene when one character commented, "Didn't I see you as the butler?" Astor responded, "My brother, sir!" Fun!

Gray's direction is fluid and fast-paced and Jeff G. Rack's set of the library, just stunning! This is a beautifully mounted and thoroughly entertaining ensemble piece that merits your visit. Agatha Christie would highly approve! Through August 1 only!


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