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Poirot is Back:
Live at the O’Reilly & Streaming on Hulu

April 22nd, 2022

Hercule Poirot enters in a swirl of mist–walking stick in hand, overcoat draped across his shoulders, and a great mustache perched atop his upper lip.

In all, he seems to have stepped from the pages of one of Agatha Christie’s novels.

Played with great flair by Pittsburgh-based actor, director, and playwright Martin Giles, this Poirot instantly commands attention … and continues to do so for the duration of the Pittsburgh Public Theatre production of Murder on the Orient Express.

Adapted from the novel by Ken Ludwig and directed by PPT Artistic Director Marya Sea Kaminski, the production runs through May 1 at the O’Reilly Theatre in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. It’s not to be missed. (Get tickets here.)

The PPT production is the second new Poirot performance I caught this week, the other being the equally impressive Kenneth Branagh portrayal in his adaptation of Death on the Nile. Here, the mustache is even larger. Indeed, one might call it “gigantic,” “immense,” or “amazing” (words Christie uses to describe Poirot’s facial hair). Yet, in deviation from Christie’s account, the reason for its size is given in a revisionist prologue that shows Poirot being disfigured in The Great War. Turns out (according to screenwriter Michael Green) the stasch covers a disfiguring scar.

Never mind that Christie tells us (in her short story “The Double Clue“) that Poirot left Belgium for England when war broke out), the backstory is nonetheless compelling and adds an interesting dimension to the character.

And though Green’s screenplay takes other liberties with the story, and some reviewers have complained that the film relies too heavily on CGI scenery, Branagh’s performance is worth the price of admission (or a subscription to Hulu, where the film is available for streaming).

Interestingly, a 1978 adaptation directed by John Guillermin relies entirely on real locations and is all the richer for it. It stars Peter Ustinov as a considerably older Poirot and is adapted by Anthony Shaffer (Sleuth). It’s available on Amazon Prime.

Finally, I also recommend (as I did in an earlier post) Sidney Lumet’s 1974 Murder on the Orient Express, with Albert Finney in the lead.

So there you have them, four excellent Hercule Poirots and plenty of mystery to keep you entertained until Prime Stage Mystery Theatre returns on May 5. I’ll be posting more about that next week.

Until then, enjoy the mysteries.