And Then There Were None
Bill Kenwright & The Agatha Christie Theatre Company
Grand Theatre, Blackpool
The 10 little characters of one of Agatha Christie’s most durable murder mysteries line up again to mark the 10th anniversary of the theatre company dedicated to her work.
It’s the kind of dramatic irony she might have liked, even if the name of her 1943 play has changed twice over the years, just to keep up with political correctness.
Not much else has altered in a production that sticks solidly to the original style and period setting, a design that closely evokes the Burgh Island hotel off the Devon coast.
The 10 guests who check in here are gradually killed off, because of guilty murderous secrets from their past. The audience challenge is to determine who, amongst the 10, might be hosting this ultimate murder mystery party, though several theatregoers seem to prefer to just name each actor they recognise.
Like a particularly well-dressed episode of Celebrity Big Brother, nearly every member of the cast is a TV face. It’s just that instead of being voted off, their demise here is of the more enduring kind...
Paul Nicholas, Colin Buchanan, Susan Penhaligon, Mark Curry, Verity Ashworth, Ben Nealon, Eric Carte and Frazer Hines each bow out as the story unfolds, even if you could cheerfully strangle one or two yourself for the occasional over-acting.
And Then There Were None will always remain an intriguing construct and is a model of Christie’s attention to plot, character and pacing.
It is also always going to be a period piece, and woe betide anyone who tries to interfere with that.
When veteran producer Bill Kenwright floated the idea of a company solely dedicated to Christie’s work, there were some who thought he might have lost his canny theatrical touch. But after 10 years, and a dozen productions, it proves he’s the one with the real killer instinct.
Reviewer: David Upton