• By: Karen Temple

Ottawa Little Theatre Continues the Love for Murder on The Orient Express

Hercule Poirot and the cast of characters from the beloved Agatha Christie who-done-it, Murder on the Orient Express, kicked off the Ottawa Little Theatre’s 111th season on Wednesday night.

The novel was adapted for the stage by American dramatist Ken Ludwig, who, if in attendance, would be proud of the masterful execution by Ottawa’s community theatre troupe.

The Ottawa Little Theatre (OLT) has a history of solid stagings by the matriarch of murder mysteries, but directors Venetia Lawless and Lindsay Laviotte’s innovative idea for set design elevated the performance, making it surely one of OTL’s best. The audience couldn’t help but break into applause once the magic and magnificence of their first-class train car design was revealed. We won’t give anything away; you must see it for yourself!

The most recent Murder on the Orient Express (2017) film remake, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, of a murder on the train bound for Calais from Istanbul is likely still fresh in audiences’ minds. Despite being well-known, people were oohing, awing, and twitching in their seats at all the right moments. OTL’s staging is so immersive that you are drawn in, and the evening flies by.

From the efficient and dutiful conductor Michel (Yazen Jaouni) to the annoying American Helen Hubbard (Sharon Bernbaum) and the diminutive Greta Ohlsson (Kate Jordan) with her soul-scarring scream, the whole cast is first-class. Special mention goes to the star of the show, Poirot, expertly played by Dave Demirkan, and a tip of the hat to Christian Giansante’s rendition of Monsieur Bouc, the train company representative.

When Poirot brings the characters together to unveil the murderer, the scene is incredibly well adapted for the stage and so well executed that you forget that you already know the identity of Sam Ratchet’s (Sam Van Dusen) killers. It was a thrill to watch it unfold.

Inspector Poirot must deal with a moral conflict, the biggest of his illustrious career. During his final aside to the audience, Poirot is questioning whether justice is served when a real siren from a city of Ottawa emergency vehicle from outside throws the actor off. Without missing a beat, he masterfully incorporates that into his lines, makes the audience laugh and returns to the closing lines of the show.   

A masterpiece by Agatha Christie, OTL’s staging of Murder on the Orient Express is the perfect introduction to live theatre and a reminder of its important role in exciting, inspiring and bringing us together.

Murder on the Orient Express is running at the OTL on Kind Edward Avenue until March 16, 2024.

Tickets there are selling quickly, with some nights already sold out; click here to find your tickets.