by Zac Franzen
“The truth is never horrible, only interesting!”
Just like a cup of the real thing, Lincoln Community Playhouse’s production of “Black Coffee” is rich with character, slightly nutty, and will have you leaving the theatre energized and wanting more! Directed by Kat Cover, this Agatha Christie play will have you feeling all emotions. Whether you call it a mystery, a love story, a comedy, or a thriller; one thing is certain: by the end of the show you will be calling it a wonderful production.
The action behind Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee” takes place in the 1930’s, at the quaint English estate of Sir Claud Amory, a very eccentric physicist and head of the household. As the story advances, we are introduced to numerous characters and their complex web of deceit and reasoning, shedding light on the fact that everyone seems to have an agenda of their own. After the murder of the aristocratic homeowner takes place, we are introduced to the hero of our story, Hercule Poirot, and we begin to watch him unravel the mystery of Sir Claud Amory’s death. Who are the suspects, how did it all happen, and what secrets are about to be uncovered?
Lincoln Community Playhouse’s entire cast creates an atmosphere of tension, mystery, and strong moments of comedic relief; a combination that causes a real stir with the audience. Among these performers, no one causes quite the uproar as our leading character, Poirot, played by Scott Clark. Clark’s portrayal of the famous Belgian detective is a delight to watch, captivating the essence of this intuitive and quirky character. Scott’s ability to become this character, maintaining the accent and all of Poirot’s little mannerisms throughout the entire play, captivates the audience and allows them to become emotionally connected with the story, thus enhancing the suspense and humor of Agatha Christie’s script. Further amplifying this emotional depth would be the unique and whimsical relationship between Scott Clark’s “Poirot” and Brian Foley’s “Captain Arthur Hastings”. This colorful yet strong bond between Poirot and Hastings adds a poignant comedic relief to the plot, allowing the tempo to continue in a very fluent manner. Clark and Foley’s natural stage chemistry also envelops the audience in the story, enhancing the moments of suspense and mystery. When producing historic works such as Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee”, there is an inherent level of difficulty that pertains to the performance aspects of the piece.
When producing historic works such as Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee”, there is an inherent level of difficulty that pertains to the performance aspects of the piece. In order to effectively create the sense of mystery and suspense in Christie’s work, it is crucial to have strong, defined, characterization amongst the performers. While this feat was achieved by the performances of Poirot, Hastings, and Jennifer R. Overkamp’s portrayal of “Babs” (Barbara Amory); there were a few occasions where the emotional connection was missing from other ensemble members. Because of the elevated level of difficulty that comes with performing this play, it is important not to rush the delivery during emotional, climactic, moments and to avoid anticipating the cues of what is to come. It is a great challenge as a performer to find a personal, emotional, connection in the lines delivered by each character; however, when taking into consideration that many of Kat Cover’s cast members are making their debut on the stage for the first time, it is absolutely astonishing to witness each and every actor facing these challenges head on and with great pride in the art that they are producing.
Cover’s vision and direction that she put into the technical elements of her production truly enriched the overall experience of “Black Coffee” at the Lincoln Community Playhouse. She has done a wonderful job at utilizing period costumes of the 1930’s, only adding to the diverse and colorful characters on the stage. This set is very detailed and fitting for the time period, enhancing the plot of this story while avoiding distracting from what is unfolding on stage. Although there were only a few moments that utilized musical interludes, the times that did aided in heightening the suspense and mystery of the performance.
For all of you out there that enjoy sipping on a rich, full bodied, and enticing option; I can assure you that you all will want to get a taste of “Black Coffee” at the Lincoln Community Playhouse. The show runs from October 19th through the 21st here in Lincoln, October 26th through the 28th at Community Players theatre in Beatrice, and finishes up November 2nd through the 4th back at the Lincoln Community Playhouse. Shows start at 7:30 PM every Friday and Saturday evenings, and at 2:00 PM on Sundays. Tickets can be purchased either at The Box Office, online at lincolnplayhouse.com, or by calling (402) 489-7529.
Make sure you all get a taste of what “Black Coffee” as to offer!
Zac Franzen began his life in the arts at the age of six years old. His vast experience includes directing, teaching, and countless performances in Plays, Immersion Theatre, Poetry, and Interp; his personal favorite being Musical Theatre. Zac is a licensed judged for the state of Nebraska in both Play Production and Speech, traveling across the state to work with high school students. He has numerous achievements on both the state and national level, and was accepted to attend Juilliard’s Theatre for the Performing Arts. Zac is a very passionate and engaged person while promoting the enriching benefits the arts can give for all lives. If the opportunity to partake in any form of theatre has not presented itself to you, there is no doubt Zac will give you a private performance of your own, anywhere and anytime!