David Suchet, Poirot and More: Harold Pinter Theatre ***

David Suchet

David Suchet in Poirot and More, A Retrospective. - Credit: Ash Koek

Arriving in the West End after completing a 20-venue UK tour, the experience of pitching tent then moving on will have reminded David Suchet of his days in rep when he and wife Sheila Ferris (it was love at first sight) spent seven years on a narrow boat chugging along canals from one gig to another.

The format for this career "retrospective" is pretty traditional; a tame interviewer (David’s old chum Geoffrey Wansell), two big comfy chairs and an adoring audience of fellow thespians and Poirot nuts.

Hailing from a middle-class family, David was sent to boarding school: “What we call prep school," where the acting bug first bit the eight-year-old when he triumphed as an oyster in the school play. At Wellington School he played Macbeth aged 15, then on to the National Youth Theatre and LAMDA.

David Suchet

David Suchet in Poirot and More, A Retrospective - Credit: Ash Koek

A glittering career unfolded, studded with hundreds of meetings with wonderful people and numerous humbling experiences.

This is generally an entertaining evening, full of anecdotes that delighted the invited luvvies and wowed the Poirot fans with carefully controlled revelations of on-set secrets: I feared a stage invasion when he showed them his ORIGINAL moustache mounted in a frame.

Post interval the format and David’s jacket have changed. Now all in black, he offers an impressive master class in acting – how to deconstruct a text and build a character, the crucial importance of understanding how Shakespeare constructed dialogue and the obsessive attention to detail that has characterised a career noted for playing complex characters.

He freely admits his two decades playing Christie's Belgian sleuth opened doors to wonderful theatre parts that otherwise might not have been offered.

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It's a cosy, safe show and from David's point of view, risk free - no questions from the audience - but dare I say it is he a little bit smug? 

Until January 22.