Writer: Agatha Christie
Director: Renee van de Schoor
Reviewer: Laura Marriott
Ten strangers receive a mysterious invite to a dinner party on an isolated island.
One by one, their various sordid pasts catch up with them.
One by one, they are accused.
One by one, they meet their end.
Theatre company No Drama today launched their new play And Then There Were None to a sell-out crowd at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre.
As the audience enter the theatre two actors are already onstage. Dressed as a maid and a butler they are cleaning, tidying and silently bickering. Eventually they begin to speak and the play begins. Characters arrive individually and in pairs, having travelled to the island to see Mr and Mrs Owens; the hosts of this group holiday excursion. However only the maid Ethel, played by Triona Keane, and butler Rogers, played by Noel Cahill, are there to greet them. They too are waiting on the missing couple. As stories are shared one becomes aware that no character has ever met the Owens’ and the confusion as to why they are there and who they all are begins. Soon a gramophone record is played, according to prewritten instructions. In it each person is accused of being complicit in murder.
Based on Agatha Christie’s masterpiece, And Then There Were None is the mystery play at its finest. To this day it remains the world’s bestselling mystery novel so is quite an undertaking for a theatre company’s first production of the year. The tension rises as the characters begin to unravel. Fingers point and suspicions are raised at the slightest of thing. Each actor plays their part wonderfully and moments of humour are capitalised on; from the clever use of props, such as a bear rug and the strange humour and facetiousness of Lombard, played by Peter Blennerhassett. Kate Cosgrave stands outs as Vera Claythorne, showing her spirit and her fear impressively.
The sound effects are subtle and lighting used to heighten the feeling of entrapment. At one point the stage is lit primarily by candles. The room becomes darker as the play deepens. Will anyone make it out alive? This simple change in lighting has a significant effect on the atmosphere, emphasising the feeling of isolation. Scene changes could be a little smoother, however. The stage has turned into a drawing room. A sofa and chairs in the centre with a well-used drinks cabinet to the side and a door leading to the heart of the house to the left. This is Renee van de Schoor’s first outing as director and we will hopefully see much more from her in the future.
And Then There Were None is a taught thriller that keeps the audience enraptured as they try and work out who is the killer at the same time as the characters. The two hours fly by and this production shows why this story is a classic. An evening that was suspenseful and entertaining.
Runs until 28 January 2017 | Image: Contributed