out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

From the pen of the Queen of Crime, Mrs Agatha Christie, Then There Were None, was written in 1939 and has become the best-selling crime novel of all time. In this novel, as well as others, Christie immortalises the county of her birth by allowing the Devon landscapes and coastlines to inspire her.

Playing to a full house, the play is a cautionary tale, a murder mystery and a horror. It is the story of what happens to those who evade justice and believe themselves to be above the law and beyond reproach.

Lured to an Island off the Devon coast, a group of ten seemingly unconnected individuals find themselves the terrorised victims of an undetected murderer. They cannot leave the island as the weather has closed in and there are no available communications with the mainland, until the supply boat returns.

Will anyone be alive to tell what has transpired? Or as the poem about the Ten little soldiers suggests each of them, one by one, will meet a grizzly death.

Expertly cast the characters themselves were believable with the exception of Miss Emily Brent’s rather distracting knitting. Clearly not a knitter, rather than occupying her hands, it manifested as agitated fumbling and I just wanted her to put the needles back into the bag. This was a shame as Katy Stephens’ portrayal of Brent was spot on.

I also enjoyed Lucy Tregear as Rogers, not what I was expecting but brilliant.

For those who know the story well this production was a joyful combination of inspired set design and direction, teamed with sound and lighting.

The set was confined to one area of the mansion and the approach. This was limiting as we didn’t really get the full sense of mounting fear as the guests tried to discover, what was actually happening, how they could escape and who they were escaping from.

Sadly, there was not a full enough understanding of the back stories (flashbacks) of the ten and it made the story telling, as a whole, a little fragmented.

The play concluded with one of the most dramatic endings I have seen and I knew what was coming.

Then There Were None plays at the New Theatre until Saturday 23 March.

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