Agatha Christie’s well-known detective, Hercule Poirot comes to life in Open Stage’s production Poirot Investigates! While Christie herself grew to dislike the character she created, Poirot has found his way into the hearts and imaginations of generations of mystery fans. Open Stage’s Producing Artistic Director Stuart Landon is one such fan. Landon’s adaptation of the short story “The Adventure of the Western Star” is a witty and entertaining tribute to Christie’s eccentric Detective Poirot. Audiences can enjoy Poirot Investigates! from their own living rooms now through November 22nd.
This production opens with a narration from Christie, voiced by Rachel Landon, as the cast literally sets the stage. This opening sequence creatively draws the audience in, inviting us to become part of the story as it unfolds and offering insights into Christie’s long-running character Poirot. The music, composed by Nicholas Werner and featuring Anthony Pierucci on guitar, adds so much to the overall feeling of the performance, evoking the 1920s and playing up the comedic and melodramatic elements that make the Poirot mysteries so entertaining.
Under the direction of Stuart Landon and Brianna Dow, the small cast takes on a variety of unique characters. Chris Gibson portrays Captain Arthur Hastings, Poirot’s associate. Gibson’s Hastings is relatable, which makes him the perfect narrator for the show. His narration not only helps to move the story along, but frequently breaks the fourth wall to talk directly to the audience.
Rachel Landon and Benny Benamati show off their versatility by taking on numerous roles. Landon is particularly delightful as Mary Marvell and Lady Yardley (though her comedic chops are perhaps highlighted the most in her role as the hotel clerk). The characters have distinct wardrobes and hairstyles, but, even more importantly, in Landon’s hands they have completely different personalities. The same is true of Benamati’s many characters. Benamati is hilarious as Miss Lemon-every one of Miss Lemon’s entrances made me chuckle-and Benamati’s performance as Gregory Rolf is beautifully over the top, making Rolf one of my favorite characters of the show.
Finally, Stuart Landon takes the stage as the famous Hercule Poirot. Every movement is precise and measured, from how he sits to how he takes a bite of a sandwich. Landon’s Poirot is fastidious, snooty, and confident in his own wit and intelligence. From the quirk of his eyebrow to the steepling of his fingers, Landon embodies Poirot.
The cast and crew of Poirot Investigates! has put together a delightful, dryly witty production that will appeal to lovers of Agatha Christie mysteries and British comedy. During these difficult times, it is particularly refreshing to spend an evening laughing and enjoying the creative talents that make a production like this possible. For more information on Open Stage’s production of Poirot Investigates! visit www.openstagehbg.com.