The Aquila Theatre, founded in 1991 in London, is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a production of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile based on her best-selling novel Death on the Nile. The play tells the story of Kay Ridgeway and Simon Mostyn, a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, who quickly get wrapped up in murder, theft and deceit while aboard a paddle steamboat in the 1940s as it sails down the Nile River.
Peter Meineck, the founder of Aquila Theatre and the director of Murder on the Nile, is making his return to the theater for the first time in seven years to direct this production after stepping down from the company to become a professor at NYU.
His inspiration for choosing this story came to him when he was thinking back on the company’s 25-year history and back to a time when the company was putting on a performance in New York City during 9/11. “I remembered the spirit of that and how important it felt to be producing art in times of crisis,” he says.
In Meineck’s rendition, a group of BBC radio actors comes to England to perform the story during the London Blitz. The three remaining actors are then challenged with performing this impossible play by themselves in unique ways.
“I thought of Christie working on this play during the blitz and of us being one of the first professional theater companies to open back up only two days after 9/11. That was my inspiration for this storyline and setting,” Meineck says. “I wanted to do a comedic approach to the play and tell the murder mystery but set it during the Blitz.”
Lincoln Hudson from England, Palmyra Mattner from Syria and American Toby Miller will take on the main roles in this production as Meineck believes they will each offer a different point of view based on where they come from. “The fun of watching the play is figuring out how on earth they are going to do it. How are they going to become all these characters? How are they going to pull off the play?” says Meineck.
Meineck says that this production is a reflection of Aquila’s rich history and has many elements in it that Aquila is known for. “We are using music, dance, projections and lighting to create a world of imagination,” he says. “Instead of having everything done for you like in a movie or having your imagination provoked by a novel, you get to really enjoy the actors actually creating this story on the stage in front of you.”
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile
Jan. 21, 8 p.m.
Hylton Performing Arts Center: 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas
Jan. 22, 4 p.m.
GMU Center for the Arts: 4400 University Drive, Fairfax