Wonder on the Alley Theatre’s “Orient Express”

The Company in the Alley’s production of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express . The production is directed by Alley Artistic Director Rob Melrose, who makes his Alley directorial debut. Murder on the Orient Express runs July 19 – August 25, 2019. Photos by Lynn Lane

When Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express took to the Alley’s Hubbard Theatre, it showcased a magnificent two-tiered stage that placed the lodging and dining areas of the tumultuous train above a dynamic and imaginative space – bringing the audience to the heart of the Orient Express.

Refusing to cramp the audience into two confined railway carriages while still establishing a claustrophobic tension between the characters, Artistic Director Rob Melrose thinks outside the boxcar in his outstanding directorial debut with meticulous one-of-a-kind staging that brings this murder mystery to life.

Before we go into further detail on this tremendous production, we’d like to let our readers know that this review will of course be spoiler free.

Regardless of if you’ve seen the 2017 movie rendition starring Kenneth Branagh  or if you’re a fan of the 1934 Agatha Christie detective novel, the Alley Theatre’s rendition of the classic whodunit is one you don’t want to miss – and that’s largely thanks to the terrific ensemble cast, with each actor diligently embodying their characters, as well as who their characters say they are.

The role of the story’s vacationing yet still quick witted Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, is masterfully performed by David Sinaiko, who makes his Alley Theatre debut with this thrilling production.

Never to be confused with his English detective counterpart of Sherlock Holmes, as Orient Express owner and Detective Poirot’s dear friend Monsieur Bouc (played by Shawn Hamilton) is quick to call out, Sinaiko’s Poirot doesn’t deliver a typical dark and gloomy performance that one would come to expect from an aged and weary detective, but instead delivers a robust and often-snarky portrayal that makes this story every bit as light and fun as it is heavy and gripping.

Each suspected train passenger stands out in their own distinct ways, with the ensemble cast living and breathing in their characters through their skillful mastery of accents and seemingly trivial gestures and mannerisms that can only reverberate as largely on a theatre stage. From an obnoxious and boisterous American to a quaint and fragile countess, an intemperate colonel to a majestic princess, the Orient Express is never strapped for battling personalities and entertaining conflicts.

201 - The Company i n the Alley’s production of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express . The production is directed by Alley Artistic Director Rob Melrose, who makes his Alley directorial debut. Murder on the Orient Express runs July 19 – August 25, 2019. Photos by Lynn Lane

One character, the murdered individual in specific, deserves a lot of credit not just for their animated performance in life, but for staying so still in death for one and a half acts. We couldn’t be that still even if we were asleep at our 8:30am classes.

Overall, the Alley Theatre’s production of Agatha Christie’s classic is a captivating tale perfectly told on multi-dimensional dynamic stages, with beautiful costume and set designs, and by compelling characters that will send you leaning back and guffawing in your chairs to suspended at the edge of your seats in a heartbeat.

Want to try and solve this timeless tale?

As a part of the ExxonMobil Summer Chills series, Murder on the Orient Express is pulling into the station every day (except Mondays) until August 25th, so buy your tickets today! Apply discount code STUDENT for prime seats starting at $16!!

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