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Robert Powell to star as Poirot

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ROBERT Powell will star as Hercule Poirot in a new production of Agatha Christie’s first ever play Black Coffee, which visits Richmond Theatre (February 10 to February 15, 2014) as part of a UK tour.

The tour, which opens at the Theatre Royal, Windsor on January 7, 2014, is being presented by The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, now entering its ninth year.

A quintessential English country estate is thrown into chaos following the murder of eccentric inventor Sir Claud Amory, and the theft of his new earth shattering formula. Arriving at the estate just moments too late, one man immediately senses a potent brew of despair, treachery, and deception amid the estate’s occupants. That man is Hercule Poirot.

Robert Powell will always be remembered for his portrayal of ‘Jesus’ in Franco Zefferelli’s Jesus of Nazareth, for which he received multiple awards and a BAFTA nomination. He went on to star in numerous film hits including The 39 Steps, The Four Feathers and Shaka Zulu. On stage, he has appeared in Alan Bennett’s Single Spies, Keith Waterhouse’s Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Joining Powell in the cast of Black Coffee will be Agatha Christie Company regulars: Liza Goddard (Bergerac, Give Us A Clue), Gary Mavers (Andrew Attwood in Peak Practice) and Ben Nealon (Capt Forsythe in Soldier Soldier).

Poirot debuted in Agatha Christie’s 1920 novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, making his first – and only – stage outing in her debut play, Black Coffee.

The Belgian investigator went on to become one of world’s most cherished and long-lived fictional characters, appearing in 33 novels, one play and more than 50 short stories published between 1920 and 1975. To this day he remains the only fictitious character to receive a front-page obituary in the New York Times.

Adaptations abound with Poirot portrayed in comics, on radio and on screen for films and television, by actors such as Albert Finney, Sir Peter Ustinov, Sir Ian Holm, Alfred Molina and David Suchet who played the eponymous hero in the ITV series since 1989, through the entire catalogue of books and dozens of short stories. He recently bid audiences an emotional farewell as Series 13 concluded with his demise in Christie’s dramatic farewell, Curtain.

Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie’s grandson and chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd, said:

“I am so pleased that Robert Powell has agreed to play Poirot in the Agatha Christie Theatre Co’s production of Black Coffee starting in January. He will be the latest in a long line of distinguished actors to play the role, and a real treat lies in store in 2014 for all those around the country who go to see the play.”

The Agatha Christie Theatre Company’s previous work includes The Hollow, The Unexpected Guest, And Then There Were None, Spider’s Web, Witness for the Prosecution, Verdict, Murder on the Nile and Go Back For Murder.

Black Coffee will be directed by Joe Harmston and designed by Simon Scullion, with lighting by Douglas Kuhrt, sound by Matthew Bugg and costumes by Nikki Bird.

To book, call the box office on 0844 871 7651 or visit

Following Windsor, Black Coffee will tour to Cambridge, Bath, Wolverhampton, Richmond, Stoke, Cardiff, Eastbourne, Southend, Edinburgh, York, Malvern, Truro, Guildford, Milton Keynes and Coventry.