Review | ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ at SBCC

Christie’s Killers on a Train in Santa Barbara

Credit: Courtesy

All aboard for an entertaining ride from the SBCC Theatre Group as they present Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit Murder on the Orient Express. With a capable cast and a very cool moving set, this play, directed by Katie Laris, brings intrigue and light camp to the stage. 

Detective Hercule Poirot (Matthew Tavianini in an exquisite mustache) is on a vacation that turns into a work trip when a man is murdered in the train cabin next to his. A handful of clues are left in the dead man’s compartment, and Poirot jumps on the case. Being that the train is stuck in a snowdrift in a mountain pass far from the next town, Poirot deduces that the murderer must be someone on the train. There is a roster of potential suspects, none of whom seem quite motivated or capable of committing the heinous crime … or are they?


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Notable aspects of this production include the use of video clips on a screen above the stage interspersed throughout the action as a supplementary storytelling device. The set (designed by Patricia L. Frank) is a pair of train cars, a dining car, and a sleeping car that roll on and off stage right and left at every change in scene location. Both cars feel opulent while remaining efficient and providing a sense of tight quarters. Despite some pacing issues in the second half as the solution to the puzzle comes to the fore, the action feels very well-orchestrated for the space.

Murder on the Orient Express runs through March 19 at the Garvin Theater. It’s a decent adaptation produced with style, making for an amusing night in the theater. 


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