Harold Pinter Theatre, London – until 22 January 2022
This engaging and fascinating show is more than David Suchet reflecting on his career as an actor – it is a love letter to the industry that he loves.
Reflecting on his career, this two and half show has plenty of humour, warmth and even advice for those coming into the industry – David Suchet is a engaging and enjoyable performer and interviewee whose charm really holds the attention of the audience, even if the interview format of the first act can feel a little forced and too restricted in places.
Created in collaboration with Liza McLean, Poirot and More, A Retrospective is definitely a show of two contrasting halves. The first very much interview orientated, with Suchet’s friend writer/producer Geoffrey Wansell leading the way – with plenty of amusing stories, many of which involve his mother at his early performances or him trying to understand the movement aspect at drama school or even a number of suitably funny incidents that have happened to him on stage.
But while it seems as though the conversation is relaxed and informal – you can tell that aspects of the conversation have been scripted which makes you wonder what the show would have been like if it had been formed with a looser format. In the form it is it can feel as though just too strict and Wansell is left with very little to do while Suchet engages with the audience.
This being said this is still an engaging show – particularly when he reflects on how he discovered that being a character actor suited him, particularly when it came to playing roles such as Sigmund Freud in a BBC series and the lengths he went to in order to make it feel authentic.
But this is then further built upon in the second act which certainly feels very theatrical, as he explores how everything about a character and the language used in a play can be used to create the idea of a character. This is explored effectively as he does readings of famous speeches including Shylock’s ‘Many a time and oft on the Rialto…” speech from the Merchant of Venice shows just what a charismatic actor he is as well as his passion for effectively bringing a character to life. Of course this the contrast between the two acts is striking and feels slightly oddly put together – but there is certainly no denying it is a fascinating experience as a whole.
For many of course it is the enduring appeal of Poirot that is a strong talking point (just look out for his stories of interacting with the members of the public who thought that Poirot was real!). It is delightful to hear about how he went about the process to get the walk and voice just right after being given the part and given some stern advice from Agatha Christie’s daughter Rosalind about the character. To watch him literally transform into this beloved character as well as revisiting his character Salieri from Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus are just two highlights of many.
Overall, it is an entertaining evening that feels like a celebration of theatre and acting as much as being about David Suchet.
By Emma Clarendon
Poirot and More, A Retrospective continues at the Harold Pinter Theatre until the 22nd January. To book tickets click here or visit: Love Theatre.com, From the Box Office, Theatre Tickets Direct, London Theatre Direct .
‘A celebration of acting & theatre’: @LoveLdnLoveCul spends an ‘entertaining’ evening with @David_Suchet in #PoirotAndMore, A Retrospective. At @HPinterTheatre til 22 Jan. ★★★★ #DavidSuchet #WestEnd