A first taste of Agatha Christie

A couple of weeks ago we treated ourselves to a trip to the theatre and thought we would write about it here because playwriting is another form of storytelling.
Holly has been to the theatre before, mainly to see pantomimes though or musicals (we took her to see Shrek in Drury Lane earlier in the year for her birthday). These are quite different because they invite audience participation – children can be loud and parents can relax in the knowledge that they don’t have to keep them still for ages.
Obviously, seeing a ‘proper’ play was a different matter for Holly and for us. It would involve sitting quietly for a couple of hours and concentrating hard on the action on stage. And, because we’d chosen Murder on the Nile, we were concerned that there might be elements that would be unsuitable for Holly. However, after checking with the Playhouse staff, they thought the play was fine for children of Holly’s age, and we did see a few in the Saturday matinee audience. So we settled down for some nail-biting action.

Image courtesy of http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com

What it’s about (taken from the Playhouse’s description):On board a steamer, cruising under the scorching Egyptian sun, honeymooners Simon Mostyn and his wealthy socialite wife Kay find themselves being pursued by an old flame of the newly wedded groom.Then tragedy strikes… A body is discovered. All fingers point to Simon’s ex-fiancée. But everything is not what it seems, and holidaying cleric Canon Pennefather is drawn into a web of intrigue and deceit as he finds himself on the trail of a ruthless murderer.
Holly’s review: I love mysteries because they are exciting and I like to get to the bottom of stuff. I liked in the play that there was a man pretending not to be a Lord. The set was fascinating – the way they managed to turn it into a boat. I like seeing plays and seeing people act live. I preferred it to the version we saw later on the telly, which was more scary. When you watch a play it’s easier to get into it more and be enthusiastic. Straight plays are more exciting and dramatic than musicals, but I like them too. In plays you are not being told what is happening like you are in books so I think they would be different to write as you have to think of the speech, action and directions.
Sam’s review: I was quite nervous when we sat down to watch Murder on the Nile – I thought that Holly’s initial enthusiasm to see a more ‘grown-up’ play would wane quickly when she realised that she wasn’t allowed to shout out in it (as she does in pantos) or wave flashing wands around or sing. However, she concentrated very well throughout the two hours (there was a break in the middle to stretch your legs). She kept leaning over and delivering her verdict on who the murderer was too, and her reasoning behind it. Eat your heart out, Miss Marple!
I must admit that at the beginning I was having to concentrate very hard on understanding who the characters were and their relationship to others and I thought this must have been going over Holly’s head. Undoubtedly a lot of it did, but she seemed able to glean enough information to keep up with what was happening. In the second act, though, when there was a shooting (the sound of which made me squeal in shock, along with a few other adults – Holly remained impassive), she did notice that the hand holding the gun (which was supposed to be well hidden behind a shutter) was held by a black, male hand instead of a white, female one so she wasn’t very pleased to find that this small attention to detail was not observed carefully enough. She was obviously taking in more than we were!
When we got home, we watched the David Suchet Poirot version on the telly. Apparently Christie did not write the original play with Poirot investigating as she was unsure how well he would translate onto the stage, but with all the advantages of television, Suchet and his team managed it. Holly was glued to the story (four hours of the same one on the same day!) but, as she has said above, preferred the stage version as being more exciting and less scary (fewer props and gory make-up to use).
https://childtasticbooks.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/0006839c.jpg?w=300
Photoshot from Death on the Nile, image courtesy of felicelog.blogspot.com
Believe it or not, we have the audiobook of the same story to listen to (chosen by Holly earlier in the year for our road trip to France, but we never managed to get to it). Perhaps we can revisit this with a review of that (read by David Suchet himself) some time in the future. But suffice it to say that we will be visiting the theatre again, should a suitable production present itself. It was a great afternoon out!
PS we are delighted that this is our 100th post!
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. What a lovely experience for you, Holly! Live theatre is something very special -you are a very lucky girl. We went to see War horse a few days ago – another fabulous play for adults as well as children. War Horse is for 11 up I would think and certainly a good read for Holly in due course. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation! We’ve still got the delights of reading Michael Morpurgo to come, and War Horse is on our list. Did you see the production in London?

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