And Then There Were None

Agatha Christie
Fiery Angel, Royal and Derngate, Northampton and ROYO
The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth

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Jeffrey Kissoon and Sophie Walker as General MacKenzie and Vera Credit: Manuel Harlan
The cast of And Then There Were None Credit: Manuel Harlan
Sophie Walker as Vera and Joseph Beattie as Captain Lombard Credit: Manuel Harlan

Lucy Bailey’s new production is all a bit clunky and very dated, but somehow an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s best-selling whodunnit novel still packs them in.

Mike Britton’s simple set relies heavily on net curtaining for a sense of claustrophobia—despite the seascape—and the sparse props are by stages inexplicably strewn about the stage as if a veritable hurricane has passed through as the assembled victims become fewer and suspicions focus.

The premise is simple and clever: ten seemingly random people are lured to a modern mansion on an island off the coast of Devon where they find themselves marooned with no boat, no telephone, a great deal of tinned tongue and a murderer on the loose. Oh and, opportunely for s/he with murder in mind, the weather is onside, meaning Fred Narracott’s (Matt Weyland) daily boat isn’t going to pop across the mile of turbulent sea any time soon.

Each is revealed to have got away with murder in their past and, one by one, they are picked off in line with the Ten Little (fill in the blank according to sensibilities at the time but now ‘soldier’) rhyme.

Sophie Walker (The Girl On The Train) is secretary Vera, the master of ceremonies with her eye on a wealthy man to marry, while Bob Barrett (Holby City’s Dr Sacha Levy) is the nerve doctor in great need of self-healing and Oliver Clayton (The Play That Goes Wrong) is a laconic (and short-lived) upper-crust Anthony Marsden.

The energetic, unapologetic Captain Lombard (Joseph Beattie: Oliver! Edinburgh Festival for the National Youth Music Theatre; Midsummer Night's Dream at Hampton Court) has, luckily for the murderer, brought his gun; censorious Judge Wargrave (The Crown’s Commander Vyner, David Yelland) faces his own death sentence and pantomimic puritan Emily Brent (RSC Associate Artist, Olivier and What's On Stage award-winner Katy Stephens) is waspish and judgemental.

Completing the suspicious line-up is the increasingly rambling General MacKenzie (RSC and National Theatre stalwart Jeffrey Kissoon), servant couple Jane Pinchbeck (Short Film Award-winning Nicola May-Taylor) and Rogers (Manhunt’s Lucy Tregar), and the ubiquitous Andrew Lancel (The Bill, Coronation Street, Brian Epstein in Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles; Brian Clough in The Damned United) as he of the frayed underwear William Blore sometime pi, sometime policeman and sometime vigilante.

The cast is auspicious but the script is dull, the delivery pedantic and the jokes contrived. Much takes place offstage and the tension never really builds amidst a fair amount of running about and dead people disconcertingly wafting about the stage, but, somehow, the audience still seems to enjoy.

Reviewer: Karen Bussell

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