Spokane Civic Theatre’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express” is the kind of show you’ll want to see twice and then run back to the Agatha Christie novel for more.
Caught in a snowstorm, the Orient Express – unusually crowded for the time of year – slides to an abrupt halt just minutes past midnight. All seems to be going well, considering. As the train wakes, one door remains locked. And no one is answering. Inside, an American business tycoon lies dead with a dozen stab wounds. Luckily, detective Hercule Poirot (Bryce Clifton) happens to be on hand.
Unfortunately for the actors, where Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” was a who-dun-it with moments of comic relief, Ken Ludwig’s stage adaptation feels like a sobering murder mystery regularly interrupted by snippets of a parallel-running comedy. Sure, the comedy is often dark, but its tone is still somehow jarringly different from the main storyline.
So, while the show itself may have been struggling to decide what it was, the individual performances were a delight to watch. And – shoutout to the creative and production team – that train is everything. Bravo.
Clifton’s Poirot was excellent from the accent to the way he carried himself throughout.
Mary Jo Rudolf’s Princess Dragomiroff was another standout. Her heightened characterization made for a seamless transition between drama and comedy.
Staged in the Margot and Robert Ogden Main Stage at Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard St., shows start at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 19. Admission is $35 for adults, $30 for seniors and military, and $10 for students.
For more information, visit spokanecivictheatre.com or call (509) 325-2507.