Rahway, NJ- On Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 3 PM, the Aquila Theatre will bring suspense, mystery and unexpectedly, a lot of humor to the Union County Performing Arts Center in a new take on Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit novel turned stage play, Murder on the Nile (1946). While the storyline remains the same, audiences will be delightfully surprised by the theatre company’s method of framing the story within another story, creating two levels of narrative and redefining the tone of the work. In addition, a cast of over twelve characters has been reduced to three actors playing all parts.
Murder on the Nile follows the honeymoon of Simon Mostyn and Kay Ridgeway as they travel on a paddle steamer down the Nile River in the 1940’s. It’s a ship full of passengers, including Kay’s maid, her uncle, Simon’s former lover and Doctor Bessner (a German doctor who opposes how Kay’s family became wealthy). When a string of murders ensues, and the victims pile up, everyone has a possible motive. Are the murders fueled by money, love, both or neither? At the end of it all, audiences will be shocked at who is left alive and who is labeled a murderer.
To add to this delightful confusion, Aquila Theatre presents this dramatically charged story within the framework of a live radio broadcast of a reading of the play. In other words, the audience is watching actors, who know they are actors, acting out Murder on the Nile. The actual setting is London, at the BBC Home Service studios in the 1940’s. During this era within WWII, air raids by Germany were a constant danger. Only three actors, one woman and two men, of an entire troupe have shown up at the studios to perform the play due to the occurrence of another bombing. These three actors have to scramble to make the show work, hastily changing from costume to costume and taking on roles they weren’t exactly prepared for. The juxtaposition of these two stories, as well as the meta element of a play within a play, will continue to delight audiences until the surprising conclusion.
Throughout the course of a year, the Aquila Theatre performs in 50-60 American cities. They are a touring classical theatre group, founded in 1991, that receives funding from The National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Councils for the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. The National Endowment for the Humanities has presented Aquila Theatre with a Chairman’s Special Award for its programming, and Aquila has performed at the White House twice.
Tickets for Murder on the Nile range from $25 to $35 and can be purchased online at ucpac.org, over the phone by calling (732) 499-8226 or in person at the box office. Box office hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM to 5 PM, with extended hours on Thursdays, 11 AM to 8 PM. The Union County Performing Arts Center is located in downtown Rahway at 1601 Irving Street and is easily accessible to major roads and public transportation.