‘New Old Friends’ bring us an energetic evening of light-hearted fun with their latest production, a spoof based on Agatha Christie’s ‘Death on the Nile’. The four-person cast draw plenty of laughs as they cavort artfully through an impressive array of different characters.

The script veers from verbal goofballing to bawdy naughtiness. It’s a challenge to convey a complicated plot on stage and you could get lost in some of the longer ‘explanation’ dialogues. We’re told “The pieces are all there, it’s just a case of putting the jigsaw together”. That’s easier said than done when unravelling a murder mystery. However, we don’t really mind if we don’t quite follow the motivations and methods of the whodunnit part as the frothy frolics of the play deliver plenty of entertainment.

The actors are clearly enjoying themselves as they slip quickly from one role to another. Feargus Woods Dunlop even smirks at the audience when he lets his Colossus Westmacott voice slip for a moment. You can’t be sure if it was accidental or deliberate but he carries it off with such cheekiness that you share the joke anyway.

The team toy with the different parts and ham up the stereotypes. Kirsty Cox is the world famous Belgian Detective, Artemis Arinae. She carries the plot along as she talks us through her thoughts and discoveries and lets her guard down to indulge in drunken merriness with the other passengers. The cruise is awash with drinking jokes and everyone gets properly sloshed.

Heather Westwell delivers a very funny scene as she flits between being the haughty heiress Aurora Lightly, her spurned love-sick friend Luna and Aurora’s French maid – Mimi. All three cabin doors and two portholes creating the boat’s background are used with slapstick effect reminiscent of Tommy Cooper.

Fergus Leathem adds his talents to this quartet of performers working tightly together to present farcical scenes like the wacky camel race. Every part of the stage and set are utilised, we launch into the dash with small toy models and gallop to an exciting finale of larger than life pantomime hilarity. The sights and sounds of a trip through Egypt are amusingly evoked through the ingenious deployment of props. We journey from the ancient pyramids to a near fatal accident with a crocodile.

Don’t expect the structural cleverness of Agatha Christie’s story but do enjoy the joyful buffoonery.

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