The posters promised a ‘masterpiece of suspense’. Ten people are lured to a remote island off the coast of Devon, where they soon find themselves stranded by a storm. Then, one by one, they begin to die in a variety of horrible ways… The only clue to what’s coming – a nursery rhyme on the wall and ten porcelain figures on the mantelpiece, which disappear one by one.
This is the plot of And Then There Were None, a stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1939 novel. It’s a classic murder mystery set-up, designed to keep the audience guessing right to the end, but with an added twist: in this story there are just as many potential victims as killers, and you never know who’ll be next to meet their fate.
To mark the tenth anniversary of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company, an impressive cast has been assembled to bring to life the world’s best-selling mystery, including Paul Nicholas, Colin Buchanan, Susan Penhaligon, Mark Curry and Frazer Hines (and not forgetting regular company member Ben Nealon). Between them they present a perfectly civilised social gathering, and yet each will, sooner or later, be forced to reveal their true colours. The cast have great chemistry, bouncing off each other in a way that makes a really quite horrifying story genuinely entertaining. Who knew it was possible to laugh so much whilst watching a series of gruesome murders unfold?
But the true star of the show is the intricate stage direction, which sees the characters constantly moving about, drawing the eye away from what we’re not supposed to see, and convincing us we’ve seen things we may not have. Each death, whether it occurs on- or off-stage, is set up in such a way that there are various potential suspects, and it’s impossible to keep straight who was standing where when it happened.
Like many of Agatha Christie’s stories, And Then There Were None is pretty complicated; you need to concentrate to keep up with all the details. This is particularly true in the first act, when each of the characters introduces his or her back story – and just as you think you’ve got it all straight, a twist comes along and you have to revise everything you’ve just heard.
As a result of this, there’s a lot of talking as the play opens, and it does take a while for the action to start – but when things begin to happen, they happen quickly. And it’s here that the promise of suspense is fulfilled; once the bodies start piling up, you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat, constantly trying to anticipate not only what’s going to happen next, but also when and how.
And Then There Were None is an ingeniously crafted whodunnit; perhaps it starts a little slowly, but it more than makes up for it later, as the story twists and turns, keeping the audience gripped right up to its dramatic conclusion. Be prepared to suspect everyone – and if you correctly guess the killer’s identity, you’re a better detective than I am.
Review by Liz Dyer
And Then There Were None
Churchill Theatre Bromley
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE returns to the stage to follow in the footsteps of the company’s hugely successful Witness for the Prosecution and Black Coffee.
Starring BAFTA nominated stage and screen star PAUL NICHOLAS, COLIN BUCHANAN, from Dalziel and Pascoe, SUSAN PENHALIGON, who starred in Bouquet of Barbed Wire and A Fine Romance, TV favourite MARK CURRY, Emmerdale and West End leading lady VERITY RUSHWORTH, Emmerdale star FRAZER HINES, and from ITV’s award winning Soldier Soldier, BEN NEALON.
A group of 10 strangers are lured to a remote island off the coast of Devon. Upon arrival it is discovered that their host, an eccentric millionaire, is missing… Stranded on the island by a torrential storm and haunted by an ancient nursery rhyme, one by one the guests begin to die… With only the fallen believed to be innocent who amongst them is the killer?
Based on the best-selling mystery novel of all time, Agatha Christie’s own stage adaptation of this dark and captivating tale will thrill and enthral, as murder unfolds.
And Then There Were None © 1944 Agatha Christie Limited. All Rights Reserved The AGATHA CHRISTIE word mark and signature are registered trademarks of Agatha Christie Limited. All Rights Reserved.
Tour dates and to book theatre tickets:
Wednesday 25th March 2015