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Review: BLACK COFFEE at Taproot Theatre

Review: BLACK COFFEE at Taproot Theatre

Now through August 13th

Review: BLACK COFFEE at Taproot Theatre Something missing, someone dead, many with motives, and none telling the whole truth. Taproot Theatre invites you to lean in and study the scene. With a marvelous set, dynamic characters, and some unexpected humor, Black Coffee is a delightful romp through Agatha Christie's world of mystery.

Sir Claude Armory is an inventor that has created a formula for a new generation of weapons that will increase the power of weaponry one hundred fold. When the formula goes missing during a dinner party, he confronts his guests. Before the thief can be ascertained, someone ends up dead. Detective Hercule Poirot is called in and begins his meticulous inspection of the scene and interrogation of all the guests, with each revealing clues about the others and exposing their own motives. While intricate in details, the story follows the typical trajectory of a mystery, leading to a satisfying conclusion.

The characters of Black Coffee include many of the tropes we have come to expect in a mystery, but the cast infuses them with liveliness and interest so that we soon forget or no longer care that they are stereotypes. Kim Morris as the nattering Miss Caroline Amory is in her wheelhouse. While the character is written for amusement, Norris finds a way to even make opening her eyes a bit of comedy. Claire Marx as the sultry Barbara Amory never looked better and played her part toying with the edge of bawdiness while never leaving the respectable world of Agatha Christie However, I dearly wish that they had found a way to include more than the teasing trifle bit of singing she was allowed to do as Marx's voice always elevates a show. Justine Yu-Ping Davis as the troubled Lucia Armory displays a vast range of emotion and skill. She toys with the audience so that you are never sure if you believe her or not. Michael Winters displays once again his mastery, portraying three separate roles and making them so distinctively different that if the program didn't say it, you might not believe that it was the same actor. Samuel Johns as Dr. Carelli was cunning and sharp. The charming but suspicious stranger could menace with a smile. Richard Nguyen Sloniker was born to be Poirot, capturing both his intellect and wit with nuance. Even in the quiet moments, his character was active as you could almost see the wheels turning in his head as the pieces fell in place.

Scenic Design by Mark Lund was one of the best I've seen at Taproot. The details were numerous and thoughtful, and the design supported the story's movement and made the most of the thrust stage. Costumes by Chris Tschirgi were both beautiful and well-fitting to both the actors and the show's time period. But what makes this show really work, is the direction of Marianne Savell. The script is long and full of details that can become tedious and overwhelming. Savell kept the pace moving while also allowing certain moments to breathe that built heightened emotion. Most importantly, she found numerous places to infuse humor between the lines. The scene with Carelli and Caroline and the yarn was pure genius and perfectly executed. Savell also had the entire cast buying in on her vision and not missing a comedic opportunity. And if you get the chance, make your way upstairs to check out the wonderful dramaturgy display created by Rowan Gallagher.

Black Coffee reminds us why everything retro is popular. Mysteries are fun, and this one penned by the great Agatha Christie, was written for the stage and is not an adaptation. If you long to puzzle out clues, laugh, or just escape from the drudgery of everyday life, make your way over to Taproot Theatre. They have just the medicine to cure you. You only have until August 13th to catch this one. For tickets or more information, visit https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2186205®id=17&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Ftaproottheatre.org%2Fshows%2F2022%2Fblack-coffee%2F?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1.




From This Author - Kelly Rogers Flynt

Born and educated in the South, Kelly Rogers Flynt has happily transitioned to life in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys more rain and fewer mosquitos. She works as a director, choreographer, dramaturg,... (read more about this author)


Review: BLACK COFFEE at Taproot Theatre
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Something missing, someone dead, many with motives, and none telling the whole truth. Taproot Theatre invites you to lean in and study the scene. With a marvelous set, dynamic characters, and some unexpected humor, Black Coffee is a delightful romp through Agatha Christie’s world of mystery.

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