Only Agatha Christie could get away with a burst of Arabic as the opening a play which soon reveals itself as too terribly British. That’s how Murder on the Nile begins – a quirky touch, though not really vital to the plot.
The action takes place, as the title suggests, in Egypt, but most of the characters are true Christie staples: wealthy (and penniless) socialites, a poor relation, an observant clergyman and assorted servants.
There’s a sense of elevated emotions before anything actually happens. Jennifer Bryden is rather excitable as badly-done-to lady’s companion Christina, and Max Hutchinson as rebel Smith insults everyone loudly.
Then a love triangle is revealed, bullets start to fly and the heat is well and truly turned up.
Nichola McAuliffe has replaced Kate O’Mara as self-centred sweetness-and-acid Miss ffolliot-ffoulkes, most insistent on her double-barrelled small ffs. Ex-1960s pop star Mark Wynter, playing a foreign doctor, has made a smooth transition to accomplished stage performer.
Between them, McAuliffe, Wynter and Robert Duncan as a worldly clergyman turned sleuth provide a basis of old-fashioned acting.
Unfortunately the rest of the cast tend to overplay the drama.
But the plot is nicely convoluted and the ending neatly ambiguous, and the production looks very good indeed.
It’s a Sheffield’s Lyceum till Saturday, October 20.