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Water Lane Theatre Company to stage Agatha Christie's Murder on the Nile at Rhodes


By Paul Winspear


Windhill Churches Centre, Bishops Stortford. Cast of Water Lane Theatre Company production of 'Death on the Nile'. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (7667708)
Windhill Churches Centre, Bishops Stortford. Cast of Water Lane Theatre Company production of 'Death on the Nile'. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (7667708)

Award-winning Bishop's Stortford drama group Water Lane Theatre Company returns to Rhodes Art Complex later this month with Agatha Christie's classic crime thriller, Murder on the Nile.

Picture the scene: the romantic honeymoon cruise of a glamorous newlywed socialite. Sunsets and cocktails. Breath-taking views steeped in history. Deception and murder.

Windhill Churches Centre, Bishops Stortford. Cast of Water Lane Theatre Company production of 'Death on the Nile'. .Hannah Juggins, Becky Faulkner..Pic: Vikki Lince. (7667743)
Windhill Churches Centre, Bishops Stortford. Cast of Water Lane Theatre Company production of 'Death on the Nile'. .Hannah Juggins, Becky Faulkner..Pic: Vikki Lince. (7667743)

The drama surrounds Kay Ridgeway, who, being blessed with beauty, wealth and a new husband, embarks on a honeymoon cruise on a paddle steamer on the Nile. But the idyllic surroundings are shattered by a shocking and brutal murder.

Under scrutiny is a host of colourful and memorable passengers, each with a reason to kill. They include the bitter and jealous ex-fiancée, a French maid, a cynic who isn’t all he seems, a doctor with a secretive past, the snobbish lady and her quite nice niece, the not-quite-sober captain of the ship and Kay's guardian, Canon Ambrose Pennyfather, who simply wanted a holiday.

As tension builds, the startling truth is laid bare, with all the twists and turns of a classic Christie thriller to keep the audience guessing.

Windhill Churches Centre, Bishops Stortford. Cast of Water Lane Theatre Company production of 'Death on the Nile'. .Granville Rush. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (7667744)
Windhill Churches Centre, Bishops Stortford. Cast of Water Lane Theatre Company production of 'Death on the Nile'. .Granville Rush. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (7667744)

Reviving his role as director, Granville Rush, who was at the helm of Water Lane's superb Rhodes productions of 'Allo 'Allo! in 2015 and Dad’s Army in 2017, is looking forward to revisiting Agatha Christie, having also directed Cards on the Table at Rhodes in 2008.

“We’ve put on some really wonderful plays over the last six decades and take pride in producing really quality productions," he said. "We're always looking to challenge expectations with our genres. This will be no different.”

The unparalleled popularity of Agatha Christie, more than any other crime writer, lies in the combination of multi-faceted characters, inquisitive plots and often just a dash of the exotic. Her works have never gone out of fashion, always appealing to the curious human nature, leaving room for the imagination to run away with itself. As such, this is a story Christie reinvented several times.

Christie’s 1937 novel, Death on the Nile, started life as a play itself, Moon on the Nile. The full-length novel was preceded by a short story with the same title, but with Parker Pyne as the detective.

In 1942 an actor friend persuaded Christie to resurrect the stage version so that he could take on the role of Hercule Poirot. However, having tired of her "irritating little Belgian detective", she rewrote the plot to exclude Poirot and introduce a new amateur detective to the plot, Canon Pennyfather.

The play opened in Dundee in 1944 under yet another name, Hidden Horizon, but eventually opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End in March 1946 as Murder on the Nile.

Thankfully, Water Lane have got to grips with the story’s identity crisis and, more importantly, they know whodunnit.

* Murder on the Nile runs at Rhodes from Thursday to Saturday, March 28-30, with 7.30pm evening performances and a Saturday matinee at 3pm. Tickets are £16 (concessions £14) for the evening shows and £12 for the Saturday matinee. Group special: buy nine, get a tenth free (evening only). Call the box office on 01279 710200 or online at www.rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk



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