Arts & Culture

Play Review: Appointment with Death

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Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death, directed by Sohaila Kapur is a two hour and twenty-five-minute-long theatrical delight that unfortunately falls short on the direction and script.

I don’t usually plan on watching theater (that too when it’s not free), but when I stumbled upon the advertisement of a play based on one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels, I decided to go. So on the evening of August 15th, I watched Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts Repertory’s production Appointment with Death directed by renowned actress and playwright, Sohaila Kapur.


The play opens in the lounge of the King Solomon Hotel, as one by one the characters are introduced. Soon the focus shifts to the Boyntons, an unusual American family who’ve come on a trip to Jerusalem. The audience from the first scene itself establishes that Mrs. Boynton, an old wheelchair bound lady, is sadistic and domineering. She psychologically manipulates her family to keep them unnaturally devoted to her, so much so; that her children have no agency of their own. However, the resentment rises against Mrs. Boynton and her children start striving for independence after they develop romantic feelings for the hotel guests. Dr. Sarah King and Dr. Gerard (a psychiatrist) do their best to pull the younger Boyntons from Mrs. Boynton’s control. The second half of the story develops when Mrs. Boynton is found dead and the investigation of her death takes place. Unlike the original story, the Murderer and the characters are different in the play. So, even if you have read the novel, the play still offers intrigue.


Like all Agatha Christie plays the onus of engagement is not so much on the story line but on the script and direction. It is the writing that ensures to sustain the suspense by crafting dialogues which should strengthen the motives of characters, that may or may not have committed murder, however, Sohaila Kapur’s directorial falls short in engagement; except for the comic scenes which are hilarious. There are a few segments that are cleverly done, for example, right before the intermission takes place a spectacular scene between Dr. Sarah King (played by Sugandha Srivastava) and Mrs. Boynton (played by Saksham Shukla) where the latter is informed of her impending death in a manner that sets  motion for rest of the play, and also justifies why the play is titled Appointment with Death. However, all interesting tidbits are sparse and spaced far apart which make the two hours and twenty-five-minute-long production tedious.


The cast consisted of seasoned actors who arrested the attention of audience despite the shaky script. Exchanges between Lady Westholme (played by Surbhi Verma) and Alderman Higgs (played Ashutosh Singh Rathore) were delightful. Smita Singh made a very convincing and vulnerable Ginevra Boynton, while Saksham Shukla impersonated Mrs. Boynton with perfection.


The picturesque set, designed by Sohaila Kapur herself, is formed against two backdrops: the lounge of the King Solomon Hotel, and the Travellers’ Camp at Petra. The stage formation rightly captures the essence of the story and adds to the drama. Entr’acte music by Arun Nayak and lighting direction by Himanshu Joshi is also on point.



Picture Credits: Niharika Dabral

Niharika Dabral

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Niharika Dabral is an average anti-national feminist who is currently pursuing Journalism at Cluster Innovation Center. This quixotically honest and technologically challenged Garhwali strongly advocates that Harry Potter must be included in elementary education. If you want to rant about how unfair life is or want to share something awful or awesome that needs to be reported then feel free to drop her a line at [email protected] 

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