THE PUMPHOUSE THEATRE: What's On
An Appointment with Agatha Christie
Shoreside Theatre’s second production of a mid-winter murder mystery is the stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1938 novel Appointment With Death.
The North Shore-based theatre company’s debut Agatha Christie production, And Then There Were None in 2012 saw unprecedented audience attendances for a mid-year season which is hardly surprising given that even in the 21st Century, Christie holds the record as the world’s highest selling author alongside William Shakespeare. Therefore, in the spirit of ‘giving ‘em what they want’, Shoreside Theatre will bring Appointment With Death to The PumpHouse stage in July.
Appointment With Death was adapted for the stage by Christie herself in 1945 and its exotic setting in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan proved a popular draw-card for war weary audiences looking to put aside the worries and tribulations of the previous years. As Christie was wont to do when adapting her novels into plays, she radically altered some characters and their motivations, as well as leaving other characters out of the narrative entirely. In the stage version of Appointment With Death the famous protagonist of the novel, Hercule Poirot was removed all-together in order to focus on other dynamic characters. Some of these characters appear quite differently in the play in comparison to the book. The reason for this is thought to be that a potential audience who had already read the novel would assume to already know ‘whodunit’. By changing the plot in various strategic places Christie maintained suspense so those familiar with the novel could not forecast the twists and turns in the play.
Director Carol Dumbleton’s challenge has been to source the beautiful, delicate costumes and props of the 1920s art deco era in which the play was set and when news of archaeological digs and King Tut’s tomb were all the rage. Agatha Christie herself met her husband Sir Max Mallowan while on an expedition to the Middle East a location that pops up frequently in her works.
In Jerusalem, a wealthy dysfunctional family joins a tour to the legendary city of Petra in Jordan. Their fellow travelers? An American millionaire, an Irish politician, German psychiatrist and a haughty English aristocrat. Mohammed, the poor tour guide must contend with frayed tempers, arrogant demands and romantic liaisons as well as jealousy, hate and suspicion. All in the burning sun and never-ending sand.
Agatha Christie is the only female dramatist ever to have had three plays running simultaneously in London’s West End.
Agatha Christie’s name has appeared every day for the last 53 years in every newspaper with a West End theatre listing.
On 13th April 1917 she qualified as a dispenser, thus acquiring her knowledge of poisons.
The Whale Rider – final two weeks of performances
If you haven’t already booked for Tim Bray Productions’ school holiday season of The Whale Rider, you’d better be quick. At the time of writing, morning sessions are rapidly filling up. This special stage adaptation of Witi Ihimaera’s picture book features puppets and is likely to turn into a regular Matariki classic season such is the excitement on children’s faces as they leave the theatre. Children who dress up in costume get a treat!
‘We’ll Meet Again’ – an afternoon of heart-warming nostalgia
In the lead-up to the 100 year anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli it seems fitting that North Shore Concert Band’s annual afternoon concert features the most memorable music from both World Wars including selected tunes from the interwar period. This year’s performance under the baton of musical director Tom Chester, features The Rose Singers, hailing from Belmont who will perform their popular ‘Dad’s Army’ routine. Special guest vocalist Rebecca Nelson, who recently sang the England National anthem before the June Ruby test match at Eden Park, will also appear on the bill.
The afternoon time slot for this show is pitched perfectly for seniors who remember the old songs of the early 20th century wartime era and gives everyone plenty of time to get home before dinner time.
Rangitoto College Senior Shakespeare
This year, Rangitoto College’s Head of Drama Allan Roberts has tasked his Senior Drama students with Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, a play based on a tale from Boccaccio’s 14th Century classic The Decameron. Rangitoto drama students are known to approach Shakespeare’s work with an edgy enthusiasm, often indistinguishable from some professional productions. Definitely worth bringing younger students interested in theatre to see where they could take themselves in drama studies.