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Review- Hercule Poirot’s First Case:: entertained by a clever plot and sagacious script

By Paul Kiely


Hercule Poirot’s First Case

Adapted by Jon Jory

Based on The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Directed by Tom Massey

A Genesian Theatre Production

Genesian Theatre

420 Kent Street, Sydney


Season: 21 may – 2 July 2022. Bookings: https://genesiantheatre.com.au

Duration: 80 minutes (No Interval)



That master sleuth Hercule Poirot makes his debut into the literary ‘whodunnit’ world in Hercule Poirot’s First Case,’ now on at the Genesian Theatre.

My advice is to stay alert, be attentive and listen out for clues. The story moves at 100 mph, but it is Director Tom Massey setting the pace through innovative set changes using two chairs. The Director combines a fine blend of staging, movement, positioning and expression. Massey is concise in his storytelling technique and brilliantly keeps the audience engrossed for its 80-minute duration.

‘Hercule Poirot’s First Case’ is an adaptation by Jon Jory of Agatha Christie’s early novel ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles.’ Set in the stately home of Emily Inglethorp (Ros Bilbe/Denise Kitching) just after the Great War, there are many characters under suspicion of carrying out her murder.

“Every murderer is someone’s best friend” claims Hercule Poirot (Peter Gizariotis) as he is brought into the investigation at the invitation of his war-time friend Hasting (Delmar Terblanche).

A local investigation is established by Detective Inspector Japp (Thomas Southwell) whilst Hastings boasts that Poirot’s “triumphs as a sleuth are legendary in Belgium.”

Due to Emily’s inherited wealth from her deceased husband, there is no shortage of dubious characters as the investigation ensues. It could be Alfred Inglethorp (Frederic Claudel), Emily’s new husband who cannot explain his absence at a critical moment. Or perhaps Emily’s two stepsons, Lawrence Cavendish (Patrick Gallagher) and John Cavendish (Paul Adderley). Or what about the nurse, Cynthia Murdoch (Emilia Kriketos)? Wait a minute, maybe Emily’s friend Evie Howard (Ruba El-Kaddoumi) is involved somehow?

Having looked at the WHO, Poirot turns to the HOW.

There are numerous clues to consider: poison; a broken document case; part of a Will; poor alibis and a whole variety of motives. Poirot may be baffled but he does not show it. He declares “If the fact is not fit for theory, let the theory go.”

Other important characters in this web of intrigue are Mary Cavendish (Alice Bendall), Dr Bauerstein (Thomas Southwell), Dr Wilkins (Laura Wallace), Dorcas (Meg Girdler) and Coroner Wells/Judge (Emmanuel Said).

The Genesian’s cast line-ups are always great thespians. Three actors are especially noteworthy. Peter Gizariotis as Hercule Poirot gives a fabulous performance. His manner, accent and stage presence give the show drama and humour in the right measure. Delmar Terblanche in the role of Hastings is very polished as he becomes the sounding post for Poirot’s many postulations. Thomas Southwell is a great fit for the characters of Dr Bauerstein and Detective Inspector Japp. He can tell a story just using facial expressions.


The production team achieved Tom Massey’s desire for a minimalist staging. The period costumes showed great attention to detail whilst lighting and sound entrenched the tempo of the story.

If you are unfamiliar with the works of Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot’s First Case is a tremendous introduction to the genre. To be entertained by a clever plot and sagacious script is a real treat.