By Rhylee Nowell
David Suchet is arguably best known for his portrayal of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. However, it quickly becomes clear that he is so much more than that.
With a career spanning over 50 years on Stage and in TV & Film, Suchet is something of a legend – and what a charming legend!
A dense crowd of keen patrons shuffled into the jam-packed Hamer Hall, eagerly waiting for it to begin. And from the moment it did, we were captivated.
Jane Hutcheon (from ABC TV’s One Plus One) introduced Suchet and conducted a warm and friendly interview. He immediately deployed his eloquence and charming humour and a transfixed audience marvelled at his life journey, from anecdotes about his childhood and family to his debut as an oyster. His account of his dear mother’s particular brand of audience participation was a special highlight.
Whatever charm modern society may lack was duly compensated for as Suchet’s avuncular friendliness glowed. He took the audience by the hand and cordially walked them through his career highlights and characters from stage, film and television. These included Robert Maxwell, Sigmund Freud, Salvador Dali and Lady Bracknell. We were reminded that before he took on the role he is possibly best know for, he was Inspector Japp in the film Thirteen at Dinner opposite Peter Ustinov’s Poirot.
Inevitably, a good proportion of the afternoon was devoted to his own portrayal of Hercule Poirot. Suchet furnished his guests with the most sumptuous details of his famous characterisation, from being cast to the process he used to embody the egregious detective: every inch of the look; every nuance and gesture. To the delight of the audience he revealed highly detailed character notes he kept, outlining everything from the origin of Poirot (who is Belgian, NOT French!) down to how he takes his coffee and which tea he will deign to imbibe.
After interval, we open to Suchet standing alone in the glare of a single spotlight. Turning slowly to face the audience he treated us to a mesmerising rendition of Salieri’s monologue from Amadeus. Such moments from live theatre we not only never forget, but forever treasure.
It was truly a masterclass in acting, with captivating excerpts from Shakespeare and his acclaimed turn in The Last Confession as Cardinal Bennelli, all with his inimitable subtlety and sonorous expression.
Ms Hutcheon returned for Suchet to revisit Poirot in more detail, acknowledging that it was probably the portrayal of that character that attracted the majority of the crowd! Perhaps it was, but while Poirot might have brought us here, no one left without a renewed and galvanised admiration for an absolutely superb actor, and quite the most charming man. David Suchet – Poirot and More: A Retrospective is a truly enchanting experience worth cherishing.