'And Then There Were None' - Anonymous Reviews
Ten strangers gather on a small, isolated island. They know each other only through the man who invited them, the mysterious U.N. Owen. Uneasy, they are gathering for dinner when an unknown voice accuses each person of a terrible murder, and shortly after, murder turns on the party itself. This leaves two simple questions: who is the killer, and will anyone leave the island alive?
From the outset, it was clear that the entire cast are talented actors; there was not a lacklustre performance between them, and every character was, in their own way, fascinating. Particularly standout performances were given by Wilf Walsworth, for a Lombard who was in turn charismatic, honest, and deliciously dark in humour; Matthew Bevan, for an enthralling portrayal of the complex General; and the wonderful Caitlin Johnstone, who delivered some truly masterful character development as Vera Claythorne. The actors’ real talent was best showcased in one-on-one character interactions, which allowed real intensity to build: Vera/General, Vera/Lombard, and the sheer power of Vera/George Evans’ Sir Justice Wargrave were moments of fantastic acting.
Much of the credit for these actors’ success must go to the directorial team of Iz Potter and Rachel Brew. Though there were areas for criticism – perhaps the tension could have built more slowly throughout the performance, for instance – within the constraints of a single-room-set, the direction was admirable and set up a mystery that was captivating to watch.
It’s as well that the actors were so good, because the tech was trying as hard as possible to outshine them. Both set and costume were wonderfully periodically accurate, with hair and makeup doing a fabulous job of creating convincing characters of all ages. The set was incredibly ambitious, with ferocious attention to detail, and came together to really bring the audience into a 1930s living room. Furthermore, as captivating as the actors were, I was often momentarily distracted by admiring the lighting. Use of a drape across the baptistry allowed transitions mimicking natural outdoor light, which wonderfully captured the passage of time as the guests sat, afraid, in that one room. The care taken over the lighting, used oh-so-subtly to develop tension and mood, was instrumental to building dramatic tension and capturing the claustrophobia of the plot as it developed, and I appreciated every minute of it.
Without wishing to distract from an otherwise incredible production, it must be said that the decision to allow the smoking of real cigarettes on stage, especially when many cigarettes were lit, did make sitting in the stalls feel a little like second-hand smoking at times. A warning on the doors would have been appreciated, especially for audience members sensitive to smoke.
Regardless, both the calibre of the acting and of the tech were immeasurable, and I cannot recommend “And Then There Were None” enough. It takes a brave production team to take on such a well-known story, and I’m so glad it lived up to expectation.
SUTCo was triumphant in capturing the suspense and suspicion integral to Agatha Christie’s murder mystery thriller ‘And Then There Was None’, so much so that the audience was absolutely captivated throughout, and the big reveal of the murderer at the end (don’t worry I won’t be spoiling the plays climax in this review) elicited gasps of shock from the audience.
The strongest element of the play in my opinion was the skilful and effortless use of misdirection throughout, the 10 little soldiers disappearing and murders occurring under our very noses. Indeed, I myself knew whom the murder was from the BBC adaptation a few years ago, I was watching closely and yet never once saw the murderer make an incriminating move before the occurrence was revealed. This was achieved by loud action occurring at a different end of the stage while subtly was carried out elsewhere. Moreover, the stage combat and murders were effective; the action was precise, convincing and clearly well-rehearsed. This clever direction on the part of co-directors Rachel Brew and Iz Potter, meant the audience was constantly kept on their toes throughout, suspecting every single character at one time or another.
The stand out performances for me were George Evans as Sir Justice Wargrave and Matthew Bevan as General Mackenzie both adeptly portraying the characterisation of elderly, mentally unhinged high-class men. Furthermore, Caitlin Johnstone as Vera Claythorne gave a solid and confident performance, commanding the stage in any scene she was in and India Willes gave a convincing performance of the self-righteous and shrill Ms Emily Brent. My advice as a fellow actor to the cast is: don’t rush the scenes, take your time with the lines, let tension and suspense build. Moreover, let the macabre ironic jokes delivered by Wilf Walsworth as Philip Lombard land and the leave space for the audience to laugh, don’t cut each other off and rush onwards, as these jokes create a contrast with the horror and suspense, making the overall experience more disturbing.
Finally, the naturalistic, delightfully symmetrical set, complete with a chandelier, designed by Katie Kelson was the perfect space for the chilling events to unfold in. The vintage florals and elegant furniture created a sophisticated mundane setting that contrasted the gruesome murders throughout. Moreover, I applaud the use of tiled boards along the edge of the stage and maximised use of the space, which served to make the stage seem much bigger and allowed the large cast to spread out and ensure the stage never felt too crowded and cramped.
Overall, ‘And Then There Were None’ was a thrilling ride with standout acting and a gripping delivery, completely doing Agatha Christie justice.