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'And Then There Were None' - violence and intrigue on a remote island

Updated: May 7

REVIEW: And Then There Were None at New Theatre, Cardiff


The latest stage production of the best selling crime novel of all time has arrived in Cardiff.


And Then There Were None opened to a packed house at the New Theatre last night (Tuesday 19 March), telling the familiar tale of ten strangers invited to gather at a mansion on a remote island off the coast of Devon.


It's 1939, the world is about to be plunged into another great war, and we are to see conflict and death played out on a smaller scale among this assorted collection of characters.


The plot is slow to get going, as we meet the participants and they meet each other. But things liven up when we discover the man who invited them - the absent Mr Owen - has accused them all of unlawful killing in their past. Everyone suspects everyone else, as one-by-one, they are themselves killed.


It's a dark and bleak story, and the star of the show for me is the set - designed by Mike Britton and complemented by the lighting (Chris Davey) and sound (Elizabeth Purnell) - which takes us into that darkness so cleverly.


The set economically conveys the luxurious home, the island landscape, and other scenes - in flashbacks even a battlefield.


Net curtains help blur the distinction between settings and time - although perhaps not ideal for the actors, who even now near the end of a six-month tour, sometimes had trouble finding their way through the gaps.


Given the bleakness of the story - a group of people trapped, not knowing who will be killed next - I was surprised how much of the script seemed to be delivered for laughs. Last night there was even laughter as one of the characters is shot to death, in their leg, their hand, their back, and finally stomach.


But thankfully there wasn't a snigger at a gruesomely portrayed hanging - by far the most graphic of the killings and probably the chief reason for the 12+ age recommendation.


It's a play of violence (though much of it implied rather than shown) and intrigue with a fabulous pedigree. And Then There Were None is Agatha Christie’s most read work and the best-selling crime novel of all time, selling over 100 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1939.

 

And director Lucy Bailey has enjoyed a string of successes including Love from a Stranger, Dial M for MurderThe Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Witness for the Prosecution, which has been running successfully in London for six years.


The cast is noteworthy, too, including many familiar faces from stage and screen: Bob Barrett, Joseph Beattie, Oliver Clayton, Jeffery Kissoon, Andrew Lancel, Nicola May-Taylor, Louise McNulty, Katy Stephens, Lucy Tregear, Sophie Walter, Matt Weyland, and David Yelland.


If you're not familiar with this intriguing story, it's certainly worth seeing. For others, this may not be the most satisfying production you've seen, but it's an imaginative and brilliantly designed interpretation.

   

And Then There Were None plays at New Theatre, Cardiff until Saturday (23 March). If you're going to tomorrow (Thursday) evening's performance, you get the bonus of a Q&A session with members of the company afterwards. You can book tickets for all performances online here or through the box office on 0343 310 0041.


Review by Andy Weltch

Photos by Manuel Harlan

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