Murder on the Nile is Agatha Christie’s staging of her popular novel, Death on the Nile, published in 1937. Castaways Repertory Theatre has chosen this definitive whodunit for their Fall production of 2019. The story is rife with scandal, suspicion, deceit, and, of course, murder.
Taking place entirely on the observation deck of the Lotus, a paddle steamer touring Egypt’s Nile River, the characters are introduced as they board to begin their journey.
Jill Jago directs the cast of eccentric characters which include the wealthy and snobbish, Helen Ffoliot-ffoulkes (Deborah Curtis), accompanied by her shy niece, Christina Grant (Jennifer Levine).
Excitement and curiosity brews about the attendance of the famous heiress, Kay Ridgeway-Mostyn (Jasmine Michelle) and her new husband Simon Mostyn (Kieran Weldon). But shadowing the young couple is Simon’s spurned lover-and Kay’s former bestie- Jacqueline de Severac (Kiara Grover).
Kay’s maid, Louise (Lexy Janda Knott), and Uncle and guardian, Canon Pennefather (Eric Trumball), are also on board. Along with a young, arrogant William Smith (Michael Harper) and the subdued Dr. Bessner (Robert Mourad).
The controversy around Kay and Simon’s nuptials is the focal point of the play. Michelle does a lovely job as Kay, displaying her honest devotion to Simon and naïve belief that the sincerity of their love should absolve her of any wrongdoing. Grover as Jacqueline is well-suited as the angry ex set on revenge against their love, which makes her appear to be teetering on the edge of mental instability.
Trumball as the Canon (who replaces the famous character, Poirot, from the original novel), is the voice of reason and confidant to Kay. She divulges the unfolding of Simon’s change of devotion from Jacqueline to Kay and the audience learns that Jacqueline has since been following the couple along their honeymoon adventures (though the former fiancé attests that it is purely coincidental).
When violence occurs, Jacqueline is the obvious and easy suspect. But the Canon is methodical and thorough, interviewing each individual and uncovering the surprising truth behind the tragic events.
Some comic relief is brought by two persistent beadsellers (Paul Jago and Anand Tripathi) who scurry amongst the passengers pushing their goods for sale. The steamer’s Stewart (Jared Dent) constantly shoes them away while also graciously tending to the needs of the guests. Dent also offers many light-hearted moments with his silent but expressive reactions to the oddities of the characters.
Castaways Repertory Theatre has created a lovely production of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile. The classic murder mystery has an intriguing storyline and the cast does a commendable job with Christie’s inarguable genius for plot-twists and tangled webs of deception.
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one fifteen-minute intermission.
Murder on the Nile plays through October 13, 2019, at The Castaways Repertory Theatre performing at Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building – 15941 Donald Curtis Drive, in Woodbridge, VA. For tickets, call (703) 232-1710 or purchase them online.