first night

And Then There Were None

Julia Atherley enjoys FTC's production of this Agatha Christie murder mystery.

And Then There Were None is a play based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name. It focuses on the isolation of its ten main characters gathered on an island. Feather Theatre Company’s production maintained the suspense and intensity of Christie’s masterpiece, whilst adding real depth to the characters in the intimate setting of City Theatre.

The real achievement of this production lies in its characters. With ten main speaking parts, one might think it hard to give each the depth and consideration that possibly comes more naturally with a smaller cast. Introduced in rapid succession, each showed a vivid and well-defined personality. Each actor or actress had a clear sense of purpose and persona and not one remained stagnant. Even on this often overcrowded stage, each character stood apart from the subtle 1930s dusty set. Matthew Chalmers was particularly captivating as his character descended into uncontrollable anxiety—perfectly mirroring the agitation of the audience as the plot began to unravel. Credit must be given to director Myriam Rapior for the worlds created around each character. Her vision of a plot driven by loaded dialogue made for a very engaging production indeed.

What was most clear in this play was the sense of isolation. Set in just one room against the backdrop of a stony island off the coast of Devon, audience members could smell the cigarette smoke and hear both the sea and the screams. We were on this island, too, trapped by the storm. This intense atmosphere was well controlled by subtle use of lighting, blackouts and strong characterisation. Music framed the acts, leaving us feeling uneasy, and during one particularly haunting moment, we were reminded of the sinister nursery rhyme ‘Ten Little Soldier Boys’. Its meaning powerfully grew more and more gruesome as the play developed.

Dan Hodgkinson played a convincing Judge Wargrave—a man who prefers brain to brawn. His authority over the characters was palpable and the play often served as a reminder of how each of us acts differently in times of crisis. Hodgkinson made for a commanding figure, especially when juxtaposed to Marston. Expertly played by Nicola Samosa, Marston’s blasé approach to life made him an entertaining character to watch, but ultimately an unsettling influence, especially given the serious nature of the plot.

One of the most enjoyable parts of going to watch a whodunnit play was trying to figure out the murderer before the show’s end. Even for audience members already familiar with the plot, the murmurs and bets being placed around the theatre during the intervals only added to the compelling nature of the play. It is a sold-out production and I can see why: it brags both the character development found in lengthy period dramas and the pace and suspense which is always at its most intense when delivered in the theatre.

25 November 2016

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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