Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hercule Poirot "A Dead Man's Folly & Q&A with David Suchet


I have managed to get last minute tickets to the preview screening of the latest Hercule Poirot, 'Dead Man's Folly' including a Q&A with the bastion of British (or should that be Belgian) entertainment himself: David Suchet. That's why I'm grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

To most people my age, Agatha Christie's saga is merely an outdated set of stories by a novelist long-gone, enjoyed only by the middle-aged (and middle class) masses over cheese and biscuits of a Sunday evening. But I am here to tell you that it is so much more than that.

It is so many things: A master class in acting; an example of unparalleled commitment to the text; a who's who of British television (in front and behind the camera); a drama that is at once compelling, heartfelt and humorous: a reminder of times more simple (if also more sinful) but perhaps more than that; it's a reassuring moral compass to navigate the quagmire of today's murky-grey societal values. 

As you may have seen I am virtually salivating by the time we careen through the establishing storm of 'Dead Man's Folly' in a vintage 50s automobile - & I can't decide whether it's the anticipation of a new instalment or a subconscious connection between the lead character (Sean Pertwee) and his VoiceOver of Masterchef. Regardless I was riveted from here, to the tale's definitive conclusion. I'm not going to drop any plot-spoilers but it won't disappoint any fans of the book. 

Perhaps this is in fact the key to the series' longevity. It's not just that Christie writes (as did Shakespeare) of the 'human condition', the things inherently important to all - love and betrayal, money and greed etc, it's that she does so in such a singular a compelling voice, such that even when the story is presented in the same template time after time, we are still compelled to discover who did it and more importantly, why!

And it's this voice that Mr. Suchet tells us he has always strived to uphold. He has always carried, when filming, a list of detailed notes from his original study of the novels with which he can remind himself the nuances and foibles of the complicated character we all know and love. 

So how was it - sitting in the front row, close enough to an idol to comb his slicked back hair? Well, he is (mercifully) slimmer than we know him on the small screen, much  more laconic too with a far easier gait; eloquent, confident, ready with an anecdote for any occasion, oh and interestingly he pronounces it "TheAtre" like a true stage lovey! Overall it was enlightening.

David reassures us (I feel we ought to be on first name terms now) that by this point he knows Poirot's every possible reaction to any given circumstance and if he were so inclined could live as Poirot for the rest of his life. Just the thought of the perpetual moustache grooming would be enough to make even Daniel Day Lewis cry off.

When asked of being type cast he speaks with great enthusiasm for how lucky he has been with the role, how he has had the opportunity to pursue other ventures simultaneously (and one wonders if he could have continued had this not been the case, I suspect not). 

What struck me most from an actor's perspective was the revelation that the final shot of 'Murder in the Orient Express' with Poirot shouldering the moral burden of being held judge, jury and executioner - was in fact filmed first. All before he had even met any of the film's other actors - a sign if true class!

I could go on - about his portrayal of Salieri in the stage play of Amadeus, migrating west to play an American detective in 'a Perfect Murder', his depiction of Wolsey in Henry VIII, all of which influenced me in my decision to take up and pursue acting as a career but suffice it to say; it is his unflinching dedication to the role of Hercule Poirot; a curious, eccentric, lonely, ruthless yet gentle detective whose little grey cells always allow him to uphold what is right and save the day, that I will remember him for.