David Suchet: Poirot and More, a Retrospective at Harold Pinter Theatre
Coinciding with the celebration of his 75th birthday, David Suchet’s touring show is in essence an interview with his long-time friend Geoffrey Wansell in which he reminisces about a life of acting. The conversation is brought to life by many charming anecdotes about and reprisals of some of his key roles from throughout his career – including, particularly, his popular and puissant portrayal of Poirot over the course of 25 years.
For the most part, the experience is peaceful, civil and entertaining. Suchet is consistently charming and grateful for the unique opportunities his life has offered him; he appreciates his upbringing and the support he’s received and is evidently passionate about his work. Wansell’s questions are, considering their friendship, clearly more friendly and encouraging than jarring or prodding. It’s an inevitable consequence of this type of show and, as such, forgivable. Despite the clearly scripted nature of this retrospective, it’s still a pleasure to watch their friendly banter.
In the second half, the focus shifts from Suchet’s development as an actor to his methodology and theories, consequently becoming more intense in its content. He contextualises Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock; he emphasises the importance of building on the writer’s use of language while acting to give voice to the writer’s intention; he delivers an enthusiastic speech on the Latin origins of the word person and how it highlights the importance of speech in developing characters on stage and screen. Finally, he treats the audience to an explanation of the techniques and thoughts that produced his treasured interpretation of beloved Belgian (!) detective Hercule Poirot as he transforms into the character on stage.
As such, David Suchet: Poirot and More, a Retrospective is an appealing show well worth one’s time. While it is true that it is largely the celebration of one man, it does so in such a humble and friendly manner that one can hardly help but enjoy it. Aside from that, hearing the methodology and thought patterns that occupy the mind of a actor who has been on stage for so many years provides an entirely different perspective on theatre in general – one that is both refreshing and new, and will be a pleasure to watch, regardless of one’s prior exposure to Poirot’s exploits.
Photo: Ash Koek
David Suchet: Poirot and More, a Retrospective is at Harold Pinter Theatre from 4th January until 22nd January 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: