Tuesday, January 21, 2020


David Suchet. Poirot and More. A Retrospective.

With David Suchet  interviewed by Jane Hutcheon Canberra Theatre. Canberra Theatre Centre. January 20 – 21 2020.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

David Suchet in David Suchet. Poirot and More A Retrospective
Photo by Ash Koek
For twenty five years, David Suchet inhabited Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot on television sets all around the world. “Do you miss him?” interviewer Jane Hutcheon asked Suchet in the closing moments of  David Suchet. Poirot and More. A Retrospective. There is a long pause as the esteemed British actor clutches Poirot’s distinctive cane. Emotion floods the Canberra Theatre where an entranced audience hangs on every word. “Yes.” Suchet answers with a sigh. For twenty five years he lived Poirot’s distinct Belgian not French accent, walked his mincing steps, recreated the detective’s eccentricities from careful scrutiny of his actor’s dossier on Poirot and solved Agatha Christie’s intricately woven murder mysteries to the delight of as many as 750 million viewers world-wide..

Jane Hutcheon and David Suchet. Photo by Ash Koek
But Suchet is much much more than Poirot, in spite of the fact that it may have been his role as Poirot that drew audiences to the opening night of his retrospective. In an evening spanning more than two hours, and guided by the gentle, impeccably researched questioning by former One Plus One interviewer, Hutcheon, Suchet reveals the actor and his many  and varied characters for stage and screen. From the eight year old oyster in Alice Through The Looking Glass at Wellington School to a schoolboy Macbeth, we find the young Suchet developing his passion for the art of acting. After rejection upon rejection, he is accepted into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). His account of his life is laced with wit, humour and artful anecdote. Suchet is the supreme storyteller, luring us into his fascinating world of the theatre with accounts of his thirteen years at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the happy accidents that secured for him the star dressing room. Every episode of fateful good fortune is told with dramatic flair, brilliant comic timing and the humility of a great actor. We laugh at his verbal imagery as he actively describes his role as Tybalt, dressed in black leather, traipsing down the stage on opening night, only to trip and fall flat on his face. He affectionately recounts his mother calling out from the audience “Yes David?” as he utters the words “Mother! Mother!” upon the stage. The evening is littered with sparkling gems that guide the audience through his life and his illustrious and varied career, captured on the large projection screen at the rear of the apron stage. Stages of his career are recalled with performed extracts of Marc Antony’s “Oh, pardon me thou bleeding piece of earth” over Julius Caesar’s body or Macbeth’s bemoaning “Tomorrow and tomorrow” at the news of his wife’s death. From childhood to drama auditions to family stories to his early career and later fame, theatrical awards and recognition, Suchet captivates us with his entertaining revelations, his engaging snippets of performance and his lively enthusiasm.  The passion is palpable and the excitement of a long and laudable career holds an audience in its thrall.

Jane Hutcheon. David Suchet and Hercule Poirot. Photo. Ash Koek
After interval, Jane Hutcheon temporarily leaves the stage to Suchet to reveal the secret of his craft. Some may say that he is an actor of the old school of British acting, passionate about Shakespeare after his work with legendary academic, teacher and director John Barton. Already enraptured by his charm and beguiling craft, we are introduced to the actor’s studio, where voice is a paramount tool of his craft, the language of Shakespeare the vehicle of communication and conviction and character the heart of every performance. To see Suchet build the character of Poirot is to witness a legend of his art in action. Secrets are revealed like clues from a mystery. Suchet learned from the revered Laurence Olivier  how the power of a penny between the posterior cheeks could inspire Poirot’s mincing walk . And how Poirot’s voice resulted from Christie’s comment that the detective existed from the neck up. In amazed wonder we watch the character appear as the secrets of voice and walk and that precisely coiffured moustache appear before our very eyes.
All too soon the evening with David Suchet must come to an end and Jane Hutcheon as gentle as ever brings the night to a close. A man for all parts takes his bow and the audience rises in spontaneous acclamation. David Suchet. Poirot and More. A Retrospective is a gift to every aspiring actor or director, an inspiration to all who live their lives in theatre, and an absolute joy to every person who delights in David Suchet’s wonderful world of characters. If you have not seen the Canberra show, be sure to catch it at any of the national touring dates below. This is an experience not to be missed!

National Tour Dates:
Thursday January 23rd. 3pm & 8pm
Concert Hall – Sydney Opera House

New show added. Friday 7th. February  8 p.m.
State Theatre
Saturday 25th. January 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
New show added. Thursday 13th. February 8 p.m.  
Hamer Hall Arts Centre Melbourne.
Gold Coast
Wednesday 29th January  8 p.m.