The expectations given with any Agatha Christie-based plot, when concerning the mystery genre, will always be notably high. The expectations for arguably her most popular work And Then There Were None are no different.
A plot strewn with mystery, murder and remarkable precision for detail has never failed to delight readers and audiences everywhere, and the New Theatre’s production of this tale is most definitely not an exception to this.
As a book, And Then There Were None is highly intelligent, as a television adaptation it is riveting, and as a play it is incredibly ambitious, a feat that does not seem to have negatively affected the cast and creative team of this production in the slightest.
“The most important aspect of the plot that is so carefully translated onto the stage is the psychology which intertwines each and every character.”
In order to not disturb the true mystery of the piece, the best way in which to explain the plot is simply this: eight guests and two servants are invited to an island, having never met before and after having been accused of murder themselves, they are all systematically killed off. You may find this a gruesome forefront, but the intricacy of the piece speaks for itself.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the plot that is so carefully translated onto the stage is the psychology which intertwines each and every character. It is always difficult to adapt the feelings of a character when you are given less textually in comparison to the characters in the book.
However, the rapport between the ensemble was brilliantly done. I would principally like to mention the juxtaposed chemistry between Vera Claythorne, played by Niamh Caines, and Emily Brent, played by Charlotte Sanders. These two actors depicted the two personalities of the women perfectly, and played brilliantly to their opposition, one a young and rather delightful secretary, the other a pious lady stuck in her ways: an antagonism wonderfully played out between the two.
“The simple and yet extremely effective suspending music injected just enough tension to keep the audience captivated.”
Another standout performance came from Harry Pavlou in his performance of Phillip Lombard who successfully played out both the characters’ strengths and flaws in a wonderfully sophisticated manner. The same can be said for the other cast members, all of whom played to their part excellently in creating further complex questions when considering their character’s moral, or indeed immoral, acts.
The pace of the piece was also interesting to note. Having a seemingly slow start, perhaps one of my only criticisms, the use of the two intervals added to the suspense of the following acts. Therefore, by the end of the first act the slow start had long been forgotten due to the sheer anticipation of the mystery.
To add to this, the simple and yet extremely effective suspending music injected just enough tension to keep the audience captivated. This in itself could have gone extremely wrong, especially when such music is often associated with the air of a cheesy 80’s detective programme. However, the subtlety of the music allowed for a far more realistic atmosphere, drawing everyone even further into the sheer mystery of the piece.
“Both cast and crew have done a fantastic job of bringing together a piece that is both insightful and creative.”
As a director, James Fox has been able to provide a play that plays homage to the brilliance of Christie and this story that she so intimately crafted. His direction beautifully creates a reflection of the human mind and the madness that comes with the placed suspicion on each and every one of the characters. Both cast and crew have done a fantastic job of bringing together a piece that is both insightful and creative.
A mystery that has been versed and adapted on numerous occasions is brought to life once again at the New Theatre. If you wish to really know how it is done, then I guess you will just have to go and view it for yourself.
‘And Then There Were None’ is running at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 11th June. For more information and to book tickets, see here.