She’s the best-selling mystery writer of all time and he is her best-loved crime solver. Together, they make for a fun cup of who-done-it joe. Newtown Arts Company presents Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee” Oct. 13 through 19 at
“Black Coffee” is not only the prolific author’s first play, but the only one of her plays to feature her beloved character of many novels, short stories and adapted films: Inspector Hercule Poirot. Bringing the meticulous Belgian detective to Newtown are co-directors Jane DeKorte and Jim McCrane, yet is was DeKorte who did the footwork of tracking down the elusive play.
Christie wrote the play in the late 1920s and it was long out of print in the U.S., DeKorte said, but she finally acquired it for the theater company.
“It’s probably not one people are familiar with,” said McCrane. “It’s an opportunity to see something you haven’t seen before.”
McCrane said he likes Christie’s balance of revealing clues without fully revealing the culprit too soon. “She gives you just enough to work with,” he said. “You can create guilt among a number of people.”
Just when one character seems culpable, another clue arises to confound the audience. “Hopefully,” he added, “we’ll be successful in that, so we don’t give it away until the very last minute.”
Christie asks the audience to use those “little grey cells” in much the same manner as Poirot himself does to solve the puzzle. No need for crime scene investigation or medical examinations with Poirot. It’s all a character study.
And there are some fairly outrageous characters. “Some are larger than life, in some cases bombastic and others playful,” said McCrane. “It helps with the overall movement of the play. Even though it’s a murder mystery, it has some lighthearted moments and every character has some comic relief.”
Larry Krevitz, of Holland, portrays the fastidious Poirot, with a French accent. “He’s been with Newtown Arts for 17 years off and on,” said DeKorte of the experienced Krevitz.
Playing Poirtot’s sidekick, Captain Hastings, is John Wolodzko of Yardley, a first-timer with Newtown Arts. “He’s been having such a wonderful time, he’s glad he did it,” said DeKorte. “He’s made his mark.”
One of only three women in the cast of 13 is Doylestown’s Jo Page. “You know when you have Jo in a production it will be special," said DeKorte.
“We have a really good cast,” she added.
McCrane, a seasoned director who is directing for the first time with this company, is also delighted with the cast. “They’re all very hard workers and really dedicated to being creative in this whole process,” he said. “I’ve been really pleased. The NAC (Newtown Arts Company) folks are committed to putting their best foot forward in everything they do. I’m very impressed with their efforts to be a full-fledged arts program. The scholarship funding is a very noble thing that they do.”
Proceeds from all Newtown Arts Company productions fund scholarship grants to local students pursuing post-secondary education in the performing and fine arts.
Curtain times for “Black Coffee” are Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 14 and Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct. 18 and Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16, $19 and $31.
Visit www.newtownartscompany.com, the Newtown Theatre Box Office during theater hours or call 215-860-7058.