Stars take a sip of Black Coffee to solve Christie's crime

Liza Goddard, Robert Powell and Robin McCallum star in Black Coffee (3526426)

Liza Goddard, Robert Powell and Robin McCallum star in Black Coffee (3526426)

First published in Theatre

ROBERT POWELL stars as the iconic sleuth Poirot as Agatha Christie’s first play, Black coffee, tours to the Theatre Royal Bath next week.

Robert Powell is set to perform as Agatha Christie’s most famous creation Hercule Poirot in Black Coffee when The Official Agatha Christie Company visits the Theatre Royal Bath from Monday, January 27 to Saturday, February 1 as part of a UK-wide tour.

A quintessentially English country estate is thrown into chaos following the murder of eccentric inventor Sir Claud Amory, and the theft of his new earth-shattering formula. Arriving at the estate just moments too late, one man immediately senses a potent brew of despair, treachery, and deception amid the estate’s occupants. That man is Hercule Poirot.

Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie's grandson and chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd, said: “I am so pleased that Robert Powell has agreed to play Poirot in the Agatha Christie Theatre Company's production of Black Coffee starting in January. His appearance will be the icing on the cake of a real treat that lies in store in 2014 for all those around the country who go to see the play.”

Robert Powell joins a long line of celebrated stage and screen actors who have played the role of Poirot, who debuted in Christie’s 1920 novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, making his first - and only - stage outing in the mistress of murder’s debut play, Black Coffee. The Belgian investigator went on to become one of world’s most cherished and long-lived fictional characters, appearing in thirty-three novels, one play and more than fifty short stories published between 1920 and 1975. To this day he remains the only fictitious character to receive a front-page obituary in the New York Times. His legend has proved ripe for adaptation and Poirot has been portrayed in comics, on radio and on screen for films and television, by actors including Albert Finney, Sir Peter Ustinov, Sir Ian Holm, Alfred Molina, and David Suchet, who played the eponymous hero in the ITV series since 1989, through the entire catalogue of books and dozens of short stories. Poirot recently bid audiences an emotional farewell on our television screens as the classic screen series concluded with his demise in Christie’s dramatic farewell, Curtain.

Intrigue and suspense form the back-bone of the thriller Black Coffee, which is one of over a dozen plays from the pen of the great Agatha Christie, who became a Dame of the British Empire in 1971. She died in 1976, aged 85. Her books have sold billions of copies around the world – many more than any other author except Shakespeare and The Bible. Her most famous characters are Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Agatha Christie was as successful as a playwright as she was as a novelist and, at one point, had three plays running in the West End at the same time, a feat unmatched by any other woman.

The Official Agatha Christie Company returns to Bath after recent successful visits with Go Back for Murder, And Then There Were None, Spider’s Web, Verdict and Murder on the Nile.

'Black Coffee' tours to the Theatre Royal Bath from Monday, January 27 to Saturday, February 1. Visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk

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