“My only note to myself as a young actor would be – never be scared,” says David Suchet, ahead of his Poirot And More retrospective at York Theatre Royal

The poster artwork for David Suchet’s Poirot And More: doing the regional rounds of “non-elitist theatres”

WHERE will David Suchet be spending Wednesday afternoon and evening?

To save you the detective work, the answer is that the beknighted British character actor, now 75, will be on stage at York Theatre Royal, discussing his 50-year career in Poirot and More, A Retrospective.

At 3pm and 8pm, he will be in conversation with Geoffrey Wansell, co-author of his book Poirot And Me, as they look back over his life and work on stage, television, film and radio.

He promises an acting masterclass too, performing extracts and revealing techniques behind his craft and characters.

To go with his dapper, discerning, dainty-stepping Belgian detective Poirot, the “and more” in Suchet’s career has taken in Shakespearean kings, Mozart’s nemesis, Salieri, neurologist Sigmund Freud and media tycoon, MP, suspected spy and fraudster Robert Maxwell.

Would many septuagenarians willingly contemplate the rigours of travelling to 24 destinations on one tour? Suchet was only too happy to do so, especially now that we are emerging from pandemic lockdown and theatres are seeking to build towards recovery.

“I wanted to bring my show to audiences around the country who haven’t had the chance to enjoy theatre for so long,” he explains. “I’ve always believed in the importance of non-elitist theatre. I don’t believe that London is the centre of the universe, as far as anything is concerned – especially the arts.

“And we actors are rogues and vagabonds. Historically we’ve always toured, going right back to the Elizabethans and before. It should be in our DNA; I think actors should put their money where their mouth is and go out and tour.”

Suchet is conscious that Covid’s shadow may lead to continuing reservations over venturing out to a live event, but he hopes his show will be a good way to ease audience anxieties. “We’re visiting a lot of theatres and regions that have meant something to me, in my career. Everything will be safe, there’s only me on the stage, with one of my very best friends,” he says.

“And I’m going to be talking about my early life; how I grew up in London; my school; my very first roles, right the way through to becoming a professional actor, then joining the Royal Shakespeare Company, getting into television and slowly moving into film.”

Among the characters he will inhabit will be Shakespeare’s Oberon, Caliban, Macbeth and Shylock, as well as the inevitable Hercule Poirot. “I’ll talk about how I developed the role of Poirot – not only textually, from the script, but how I prepared for the role, the movement, the walk I developed, and how I found his voice – which is nothing like mine!”

The global adoration of Suchet’s Poirot still staggers him. “It’s extraordinary. It’s now eight years since I stopped filming, and during Covid, my mail bag has doubled,” he says. “Because people have been locked inside, and have been downloading and buying the box sets, and watching all 73 episodes, and they write to me saying it’s got them through the pandemic.

“I had no idea, in 1987 when I started filming, that this series would have the international impact that it has. I’m genuinely humbled by the fact that people still find it so rewarding, and I’m eternally grateful, I really mean it. I never, ever anticipated it.”

On the contrary: when Suchet was first approached about the role, he had the gravest doubts about accepting, even confessing to them in an interview before the series first aired. “I said, ‘I’m frightened it may be boring’,” he admits. “I got into terrible trouble with ITV for saying that.”

Poirot had been portrayed by Peter Ustinov and Albert Finney already, and Suchet had even played Inspector Japp to Ustinov’s Hercule in Thirteen At Dinner, a 1986 TV film. Returning to Agatha Christie’s books, however, he set his little grey cells to work creating a version all his own, now regarded as definitive.

“I never set out to be better than anyone else, or even different – it just happened,” he says. “I reread the stories and engaged with a little man that I hadn’t seen before, and it was that little man that I decided to become.”

Developing the character was a complex, meticulous business. “I’ve always believed an actor’s job is one of creative servitude,” says Suchet. “In other words, I’m allowed my own voice as a creative artist, but never beyond what I believe the writer intended or hoped for his or her creation.”

For Poirot, this meant Suchet applying scrupulous attention to detail. Between takes, he refused to sit for fear of creasing his immaculate suit, choosing instead to rest by using a “leaning board” – an upright contraption pioneered in early Hollywood for actresses in tight, ornate gowns.

Then there was the distinctive facial hair. Poirot’s whiskers were never Suchet’s own;  such a moustache would have made him too conspicuous in public. “I would never have been able to maintain it. Over a 13 or 14-hour shooting day, it had to be repeatedly taken off and redressed, so it had to be false.

“It did vary a little bit – I think Christie herself had about eight versions of the moustache in her books – but as near as dammit, we tried to match the one that she describes in Murder On The Orient Express.

“I had to have my dresser and my make-up artist with me constantly, and my dresser would stop a take halfway through – we all gave him permission because I was so particular – and if, say, the bow tie moved, he would come in and straighten it, and we’d have to start the scene again.”

This was not always easy for Suchet’s colleagues. “It would drive the film crew and directors crazy,” he says.

“You may do things that people won’t like, but you never fail. You never fail. So always dare,” advises David Suchet after more than 50 years on stage and screen

He has firm views on the performer-director relationship: “If a director tells me how to act, then we don’t get on,” says Suchet. “A director should point you in the right direction, not tell you how to drive the car.”

He has never been shy about insisting on the integrity of his characterisation. “There were more than one or two occasions when I had to dig my heels in, and there were many contretemps,” he admits.

“Christie never changed Hercule Poirot throughout over 70 stories. He was given small differences:  he tried a wristwatch at one point, and he tried changing the width of the stripe of his trousers. But as a person, he never changed.

“You’d be amazed over the years how many directors came in and said, ‘I want to do something completely different with Poirot’. And I had to say, ‘look, I’m terribly sorry, but you can’t’. He’s got to stay the same, because of my ethos of serving my writer.

“So I became his defender in a way. I have a lot of sympathy for all the directors that worked with me, I do!  But it’s not me being difficult as an actor. It’s just me protecting the character.”

Suchet’s contract for Poirot was renewed on an annual basis. Each year, he found himself once again unemployed, but those stressful periods turned out to have a glittering silver lining. “It was difficult at the time. I’m a typical Taurean, I like things in their place. Like Poirot, I like order and method, and I’m not very good at uncertainty. I had to put faith in choice and the future, already in a very insecure profession.

“But actually, what a gift! I could fill that time with my theatre work, and other film work in America, and do tours, because I wasn’t contracted. So, my theatre career grew, and thanks to Poirot I was ‘bums on seats’. People wanted to see me.” 

This enabled Suchet to tackle meaty drama by Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill and Terence Rattigan:  “not popular commercial stuff, but big, heavy character roles – major leads in the British theatre, at the same time as doing this mega TV series. Wasn’t I lucky? It couldn’t have worked out better,” he says.

Suchet is an actor with a very strong visual sense. Indeed, he is an accomplished amateur photographer, having learnt the craft from his grandfather, renowned Fleet Street snapper James Jarché.

He brings that artistic flair to vividly describing his richly varied life and career – with all its intricacy, good fortune and rewarding choices – as “a spider’s web”. “I am a spider, we all are,” he says. “We spin our life, and we can’t see what we’re spinning. We don’t know what’s going to happen to us tomorrow.

“Every spider spins a different web. It’s a miracle of nature. The spider spins from behind, and it’s only at the end of each thread that he can turn around and see how his web is forming. That’s how I’ve lived my life. I have no idea what’s happening to me, and then when I look back at my web, I can see all the different patterns. And my goodness, how magnificent my web – my life – has been.”

Among the many highlights, he has played Iago to Ben Kingsley’s Othello at the RSC; Miller’s Joe Keller in All My Sons, where Zoe Wanamaker portrayed Joe’s wife, and George in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, when he starred alongside Diana Rigg.

By contrast, he also cherishes Mole, in Toad Of Toad Hall, and his 2015 take on Oscar Wilde’s theatrical gorgon, Lady Bracknell, in The Importance of Being Earnest. “It was huge fun, and a huge challenge to create a real person, and not to turn her into just a pantomime dame,” Suchet recalls.

“I had to be very brave. It was demanding, every night, especially when I started getting big laughs, not to be tempted to over-elaborate, but to be disciplined and truthful.”

In 1993, he seized the opportunity to work with Harold Pinter, “one of our greatest men of the theatre, of all time”, he says. Pinter directed Suchet and Lia Williams in the Royal Court’s British premiere of Oleanna, David Mamet’s controversial play about campus gender politics.

“Working with Harold, I discovered a complete and utter soul mate,” he says. “It felt as if he knew me – the person I was, the way I worked. We became very close.”

Suchet also appeared in Pinter at the Pinter, the Jamie Lloyd Company’s 2018 retrospective season at the West End theatre now named after the playwright. “It was an enormous privilege. I dedicated my performance to Harold,” he says.

Looking back at all the characters he has embodied, he still thinks about many of them, and even misses them – Poirot above all, with the recollection of Curtain, the final, deathbed episode in 2013, still a wrench.

“It was as if I had to kill my best friend,” he says. “He wasn’t just a character to me. He gave me my career. He changed my life.”

Given the benefit of hindsight, would he have done anything differently? “I wouldn’t change a single day. My only note to myself as a young actor would be – never be scared. Don’t try to get it right all the time. Have the courage to be wrong. You may do things that people won’t like, but you never fail. You never fail. So always dare.”

David Suchet:  Poirot And More, A Retrospective,  at York Theatre Royal, October 13 at 3pm and 8pm.  Tickets are still available for both shows on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

By Sam Marlowe and Charles Hutchinson

REVIEW: : Rowntree Players in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, ends tomorrow

Jake Botterell as Oliver Costello in Rowntree Players’ modern-day account of Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web

Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, Rowntree Players, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, 7.30pm tonight; 2.30pm, 7.30pm tomorrow. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk

AGATHA Christie wrote Spider’s Web at the request of its star turn, Margaret Lockwood, during West End rehearsals for Witness For The Prosecution.

Now, director Howard Ella has “re-written” Christie’s 1954 murder mystery for Rowntree Players’ return to the stage after the pandemic hiatus.

More accurately, he has updated Christie’s manor-house setting of Copplestone Court to 2021, with cultural references to Harry Syles, Daniel Radcliffe and the local Aldi, a Nike bag and trainers for dodgy Oliver Costello and a photographic portrait of lady of the house Clarissa Hailsham-Brown, rather than an austere oil painting.

At the same time, a butler in formal attire, a rather old-school child with hair clips, a protective guardian, an eccentric gardener and games of bridge evoke the earlier era, while Graham Smith’s Hugo Birch appears to be dressed for a shooting party.

There are worse crimes – often in a Christie story – than tampering with a text, and Ella’s decision is born as much out of necessity as in the spirit of fun that pervades Agatha’s second most-performed play.

Ella’s production ends up with a foot in both camps, rather than in no man’s land, as do his cast’s accents, but the dialogue stubbornly betrays its Fifties’ roots, like that tell-tale tramline of black in bleached blonde hair.

In the absence of programme notes and indeed a programme – another concession to Covid times, with only a cast list available – Ella explained his reasoning afterwards in response to a late-night CharlesHutchPress email question: “Was there a reason for the modern setting? Was it to do with costume non-availability after the Rowntree Players’ store fire?”

Martyn Hunter’s permanently concerned guardian, Sir Rowland Delahaye

“It was less about the store fire but more about Covid and costumes and control,” Ella responded. “Both from a costume and a propping point of view. Very dull but a necessary evil in these times.     

“It actually was a decision when we thought we could perform in early 2021. But it pushed and pushed.   

“I like the idea of playing it contemporary, although, of course, the challenge sits in balancing that against how faithful you should be to the original dialogue.”

So that clears that up. Now, to the play, wherein diplomat’s wife Clarissa (Gemma McDonald) is spinning tales of adventure and stepdaughter Pippa (Katelyn Banks) is permanently hungry and restless but tired.

Guardian Sir Rowland Delahaye (Martyn Hunter), fellow old sport Hugo Birch (Smith) and young buck Jeremy Warrender (Andrew Roberts) are passing the time, trying to identity different glasses of port in a taste test, waiting for dinner at the nearby golf club, although Warrender looks strangely interested in trying locate a drawer in the desk.

Craig Kirby’s sonorous, stone-faced butler, Elgin, is doing what impenetrable butlers used to do; Jeannette Hunter’s perky, if mysterious, Mildred Peake keeps traipsing in from the garden.

Clarissa’s husband, the something-hush-hush-at-the-Foreign-Office Henry (Rory Mulvihill), has to pop out to a meeting. In pops Jake Botterell’s malevolent Oliver Costello, up to no good with a vow to take Pippa away to her flaky mother.

Spinning stories like a spider’s web: Gemma McDonald’s Clarissa Hailsham-Brown

Suddenly, there’s murder on the drawing-room floor, but whodunit and how does far-fetched fantasist Clarissa cover it up? Desperate to dispose of the body before Henry arrives with a very important politician, she enlists the help/hindrance of her house guests .

Enter the detective, in this particular case Mark McDonald’s heavily-bearded, somewhat heavy-handed Inspector Lord, a wry, if blunter, instrument of interrogation than Christie’s Poirot, assisted by the frank Constable Jones (Sara Howlett, lovely Welsh accent et al).

Christie revels in a “conscious parody of the detective thriller”, leavening all the familiar tropes with knowing humour, while still tightening the suspense ever tauter, albeit over a long stretch of nearly three hours, replete with dropped clues and plot contrivances aplenty.

Add drug addiction, ham sandwiches, invisible ink, a very valuable rare stamp, a secret drawer, a hidden doorway and an unusual corner-turn for a second stage entrance, and Ella oversees a spirited production full of heightened drama, humorous confrontations and murky mystery.

Hunter, Mulvihill, Smith and Kirby are the ballast; Hunter is comedy gold; McDonald and Howlett form a resourceful double act; Roberts could have escaped from a Noel Coward comedy, and the menacing Botterell and precocious Banks bring freshness to the Players’ ranks.

In the lead role, Gemma McDonald’s Clarissa is full of fun and games, but has a few hiccups with her mountain of intricately-spun lines that hopefully will not repeat on her tonight and tomorrow.

Suffused with surprises, some new to Christie’s story, this modern-day yet retro Spider’s Web makes for an enjoyable evening’s entanglement.

Rowntree Players return from lockdown and fire with Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web

Rowntree Players in rehearsal for Agatha Christie’s A Spider’s Web, directed by Howard Ella

AGATHA Christie’s Spider’s Web opens at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre tonight in the first of three Rowntree Players’ productions in four months after the long pandemic hiatus.

Coming next, from December 4 to 11, will be Howard Ella and Andy Welch’s pantomime Dick Whittington, followed by the January 27 to 29 world premiere of The Missing Peace, adapted by director Gemma McDonald from York author, musician and public speaker Ian Donaghy’s book on bereavement and life after death.

Howard Ella, who has taken up a director of productions role for original Netflix series in the UK, is somehow finding time to direct Christie’s murder mystery.

What happens? Diplomat’s wife Clarissa Hailsham-Brown is adept at spinning tales of adventure, but when a murder takes place in her drawing room, she finds live drama much harder to cope with.

Desperate to dispose of the body before husband Henry arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests. 

“In a conscious parody of the detective thriller, Christie delivers a unique blend of suspense and humour,” says Howard. “There is tension and laughter in equal parts in an intricate plot of murder, police, hidden doorways and secret drawers.”

Explaining the choice of play for Rowntree Players’ return to the stage, Howard says: “For a few years we’ve talked about doing a murder mystery, having done Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and John Godber plays.

Jeanette Hunter in the role of Mildred Peake in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web

“For me, I need a comic bent to find my way through a play, and because Spider’s Web has an element of tongue in cheek about it, you could almost argue that Mischief’s The Play That Goes Wrong is based on Spider’s Web and not on The Mousetrap.

“It’s funny, it’s heightened drama; it does the mystery bit that it brings out with a smile, and it lets Rowntree Players find our feet again after two years, with a cast of 11 taking part, some of them new to the Players.

“It’s also a proper set-build for us, now we have a roof back on our store and all our kit has been replaced after the fire that tore through our sets and props at Moor Farm in Murton in January 2020.”

The fire destroyed half of Rowntree Players’ stock. “Smoke and water damage made most of the rest of it useless, and then because of the Covid lockdowns, it took eight months to get the roof back on,” says Howard.

“That Biblical plague meant no-one could achieve anything for a year; it was such a crazy year, where you could not imagine a worldwide pandemic would stop everything in its tracks for so long.”

The 2020 Rowntree Players’ pantomime fell by the wayside and The Missing Peace premiere was put on hold, but the Players are returning at “hopefully full pelt”.

“Andy Welch and I wrote the Dick Whittington panto script for last year, so we’re a year ahead of ourselves!” says Howard. “We’ve done a read-through to road-test it, having written it remotely, with screen shares for me and Andy.

The Rowntree Players’ poster for Dick Whittington, Covid-cancelled last year but now taking to the road to London this December

“That was challenging to do, never hearing it out loud, so we got together in my garden once we were allowed to do so, to give it a run, and we’ve since done a couple of tweaks.

“We’re hoping to be able to do the show as we always would have done it, with children and a chorus, but we’ll react to any Covid restrictions if we have to.”

The Missing Peace premiere will complete the trilogy of Rowntree Players’ comeback shows in the form of one play with 15 endings. “I’ve picked out 15 of the monologues from Ian Donaghy’s book, putting them together to be told on a station platform in a collective narrative, with piano accompaniment, maybe a busker” says director Gemma McDonald.

“The play is a series of talking head-style monologues that have been brought together to explore life after death, with each character stepping out to tell their tale. It’s not a play about death, it’s a play about life, so there’ll be moments of laughter, sadness and reflection throughout.”

Out of necessity, Gemma is adapting the monologues anew because some of the original cast members have headed off to university, while others have moved on from York.

Looking ahead, Gemma says: “We would love to have the publicity of doing an extra show at York Theatre Royal, if the run goes well and we raise the money. If that could come off, it would raise the profile of Rowntree Players and we’d have more people coming to our plays.”

Howard adds: “We have to plan for bankrolling plays through our pantomimes, which always sell out, and that allows us to do plays that people have not always heard of.”

Or indeed are new, like The Missing Peace.

The Missing Peace: Missed out on its planned premiere in the lockdown lull but will go ahead in early 2022

Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web will be performed at 7.30pm tonight and tomorrow; 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Saturday. For tickets for Rowntree Players’ productions, ring 01904 501935 or book online at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Who’s who in the Rowntree Players cast for Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web:

Sir Rowland Delahaye: played by Martyn Hunter;

Hugo Birch: Graham Smith;

Jeremy Warrender: Andrew Roberts;

Clarissa Hailsham-Brown: Gemma McDonald;

Pippa Hailsham-Brown: Katelyn Banks;

Mildred Peake: Jeanette Hunter;

Elgin: Craig Kirby;

Oliver Costello: Jake Botterell;

Henry Hailsham-Brown: Rory Mulvihill;

Inspector Lord: Mark McDonald;

Constable Jones: Sara Howlett.

Did he or didn’t he? All will be revealed when Craig Kirby plays Elgin in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web from tonight until Saturday at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York

More Things To Do in and around York as creative night market launched. List No. 49, courtesy of The Press, York

Big news! York artist Freya Horsley, right, and gallery co-director Ails McGee with Freya’s paintings Turning Tide and Liquid Light at According To McGee, York

BIG paintings, a night market, thrillers at the double, cookery chat, an anniversary celebration, a long-awaited Scottish return and a brace of comedians are the diverse focus of Charles Hutchinson’s attention.

Exhibition of the week: Freya Horsley, Contemporary Seascapes, According To McGee, York, running until October 11

ACCORDING To McGee is playing host to the biggest paintings the Tower Street gallery has ever exhibited: Liquid Light and Turning Tide, two mixed-media works on canvas by Freya Horsley.

The York artist is displaying a new series of seascape paintings depicting the Cornish, Scottish and north east coastlines.

“Her art makes you look twice because it has a calming quality and, like a good sunrise, it makes you go ‘wow!’,” says co-director Greg McGee.

York Creatives Night Market: Debut night of arts, crafts, music, food and drink at Shambles Market tomorrow

York Creatives Night Market, Shambles Market, York, tomorrow, 7pm to 10.30pm

POSTPONED at short notice on August 20, the debut York Creatives Night Market goes ahead tomorrow in a chance to browse art and products by independent traders.

Street food, drinks and music all evening are on the menu too for this free event, open to all.

The Rusty Pegs: Tenth anniversary concert at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

Celebrating ten years on: The Rusty Pegs, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Saturday, 8pm

TEN years ago, York country band The Rusty Pegs formed, drawn from volunteers at the Monkgate theatre, who were asked to perform their debut gig there at a Raising The Roof fundraiser.

To mark a decade of making music together, the Pegs have decided to come full circle by performing an anniversary gig in the same place where it all started, this time launching the autumn season. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

No mistaking Justin Currie: Del Amitri return with Fatal Mistakes album for first York gig since 2002

Long time coming: Del Amitri, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.45pm

DEL Amitri follow up the May 28 release of their seventh studio album, Fatal Mistakes, with a return to York Barbican after a 19-year hiatus.

Justin Currie’s Glaswegian band last played there in May 2002, the year they released their last album, Can You Do Me Good?.

“It’s been nearly 20 years since we toured with a new album, lord knows what took us so long,” says Currie. “The prospect of sprinkling our set with a few choices from Fatal Mistakes fills us with the sort of excitement that, for some men of our age, might call for light medication. We think the adrenaline will see us through.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

No smoke without ire: Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss blows his top at York Barbican

Comedy gig of the week: Daniel Sloss: Hubris, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm

SUNDAY’S gig is third time lucky for Scotsman Daniel Sloss, whose October 3 2020 and May 8 2021 visits were ruled out by the accursed Covid.

Sloss, 30, has sold out six New York solo off-Broadway seasons, appeared on American television’s Conan show ten times and toured to more than 50 countries. Now, at last, comes his new show, with special guest Kai Humphries.

Look out for Sloss’s book, Everyone You Hate Is Going To Die (And Other Comforting Thoughts On Family, Friends, Sex, Love, And More Things That Ruin Your Life), from October 12. For tickets for Sunday, go to: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

What’s cooking? Cookbook writer Yotam Ottolenghi finds flavour at York Theatre Royal on Tuesday

Flavour of the month: Yotam Ottolenghi, A Life In Flavour, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, 7.30pm

CHEF, restaurateur and food writer Yotam Ottolenghi reflects on A Life In Flavour, provides cooking inspiration and signs copies of his “flavour-forward, vegetable-based” cookbook, Ottolenghi Flavour, after the show on Tuesday.

West Jerusalem-born Ottolenghi will be discussing the tastes, ingredients and flavours that excite him and how he has created a career from cooking.

Expect “unique insights into how flavour is dialled up and why it works, from basic pairings fundamental to taste, to cooking methods that elevate ingredients to great heights”. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Dane Baptiste: Comedian with a chip on his shoulder at Burning Duck Comedy Club

The other comedy gig of the week: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Dane Baptiste: The Chocolate Chip, The Crescent, York, September 23, 7.30pm

IN his own words, Dane Baptiste is now a “grown ass black man, too old to be concerned with chicken or trainers, too young to be considered a peer of Trevor McDonald”.

Has he got a chip on his shoulder? “Yes. A chocolate one,” says Baptiste, a south east London stand-up who once worked in media sales.

Noted for his boldly provocative material, he hosts the podcasts Dane Baptiste Questions Everything and Quotas Full. Box office: thecrescentyork.com/events.

The Rowntree Players’ poster for next week’s production of Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web

Web of the week: Rowntree Players in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, September 23 to 25, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

DIPLOMAT’S wife Clarissa is adept at spinning tales of adventure, but when a murder takes place in her drawing room, she finds live drama much harder to cope with in Rowntree Players’ autumn return, directed by Howard Ella.

Desperate to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests. 

In a conscious parody of the detective thriller, Christie’s Spider’s Web delivers suspense and humour in equal measure in an intricate plot of murder, police detection, hidden doorways and secret drawers. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

In the chair: Just Some Theatre in rehearsal for The Killer Question, heading to Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

Mystery of the week ahead: Just Some Theatre in The Killer Question, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, September 25, 7.30pm

THE Silence Of The Lambs meets Last Of The Summer Wine in Dave Payne’s dark comedy thriller The Killer Question, marking the York debut of Manchester company Just Some Theatre.

Did The Chair game show champion Walter Crump’s obsession with death ultimately lead to his own? Inspector Black believes so, and now Crump’s dopey widow, Margaret, finds herself accused of her husband’s murder. 

Faced by more than one deadly twist in the tale, can Inspector Black solve the mystery? Will Margaret be home in time for Countryfile? Just as important, which actor – Peter Stone, Jake Urry or Jordan Moore – will play which character? The audience decides. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

David Suchet digs into his past in Poirot And More retrospective at York Theatre Royal

Retrospective: Sir David Suchet will reflect on 52 years on stage and screen at York Theatre Royal this autumn

SIR David Suchet will retrace his steps as a young actor when he visits 20 theatres with Poirot And More, A Retrospective, playing York Theatre Royal twice on October 13.

After touring the show to Australia and New Zealand in early 2020, the autumn tour will mark his return to the British stage.

Suchet says: “Regional theatre has always been very close to my heart as it’s where my career started and was nurtured. To visit so many places that have meant so much to me during my 52-year career is wonderful.

“This show is my way of connecting and saying hello to people across the country after this terrible period and welcoming them back into the theatre. I am looking forward to sharing my memories, stories and favourite moments.”

“I am looking forward to sharing my memories, stories and favourite moments,” says Sir David Suchet

In Poirot And More, A Retrospective, 75-year-old Suchet looks back fondly on his illustrious five-decade career, shedding new, intimate light on his most beloved performances in conversation with Geoffrey Wansell, journalist, broadcaster, biographer and co-author of Poirot And Me, as they discuss the actor behind the detective and the many characters Suchet has portrayed on stage and screen

For more than 25 years, Suchet has captivated millions worldwide as Agatha Christie’s dapper Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Elsewhere, he has graced the world’s stages performing  Shakespeare, Wilde, Albee and Miller and is celebrated for his portrayals of iconic roles such as Lady Bracknell in The Importance Of Being Earnest, Cardinal Benelli in The Last Confession, Joe Keller in All My Sons and Gregory Solomon in The Price. 

Suchet spent 13 years in the Royal Shakespeare Company and remains an associate artist. He is an Emmy award winner and seven-time Olivier Award nominee (for The Merchant Of Venice, Separation, Oleanna, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, Amadeus, All My Sons and The Price). In 2020, he was knighted for services to drama and charity.

Tickets for Suchet’s 3pm and 8pm shows on October 13 are on sale on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.