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by Agatha Christie
Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on a remote island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they start to die...
Rogers : Steve Symonds
Narracot : Russ Guillaume
Mrs Rogers : Jan Stevenson
Vera Claythorne : Jenn Singleton
Captain Philip Lombard :
Anthony Marston : Rob Cording
William Blore : Paul Dodman
General John Mackenzie :
Emily Brent : Chrissie Neal
Sir Lawrence Wargrave :
Dr Edward Armstrong :
Director : David Pile
TO produce a much loved whodunnit is a challenge, because we've all seen versions in the past, and remember the good and not so good versions.
Not only did the book by Agatha Christie come out under different names including Ten Little Indians, the play has a choice of endings, so we were all left guessing.
It tells the story of ten strangers who in 1939 are invited to stay in the only house on an island off the coast of Devon. This was a real success for the drama group as even on the first night the audience numbered just under 300 and following performances topped that.
No-one would have gone away disappointed as the cast worked really hard on their characterisations and the collective jumping in the audience was palpable as a shot was fired or another body slumped to the floor.
Richard Neal, who has been with the society for 18 years, made a perfect 'bounder' as Captain Lombard, who in his 'dying breath' managed to shoot the mass murderer, played by Michael Smith who had more than a touch of the actor Peter Lorre about him.
Chrissie Neal was delightfully prim as Emily Brent, with Paul Dodman, the archetypal police officer turned private eye. Simon Jackson got under the skin of the confused General Mackenzie, whilst Jan Stevenson was all of a bustle as Mrs Rogers who was left to do the catering, but succumbed to an early demise.
Newest member of the group Jenn Singleton was elegant and composed as Vera Claythorne, secretary to the mysterious owner of the house.
Marilyn Barber - Stour and Avon Magazine
IN many respects, Agatha Christie was 45 years before her time with “And Then There Were None”, albeit with its now politically incorrect original title. Just as with the plethora of contemporary talent shows, the audience watches avidly as a group of unknowns get whittled down, one by one, by unseen hands until the last (the most talented?) remains. As ‘The Ten’ are reduced in number to ‘The Final Three’, one is left wondering how those left cope with the rising pressure.
In this respect, Wimborne Drama, directed by David Pile, do not disappoint. While there were clearly a few opening-night nerves, and a couple of hairy moments when dialogue almost slipped away, it is clear that the cast were well rehearsed, and knew their lines well. Characterisation was generally strong, with the final three - Paul Dodman as William Blore, Richard Neal as Capt Lombard and Jenn Singleton as Vera Claythorne - particularly good in this respect.
There were a few moments where dialogue was a little hurried, particularly in the early scenes and from characters who ‘died off’ earlier. Don’t rush. Otherwise, diction was good, and so the complex plot was easy to follow. Props, set and many other technical aspects were well thought through, although the spacing of the figurines could be improved to allow those at the back of the theatre (including the author) to see this key detail more clearly.
The nature of this production was to have most of the murders occur off-stage - with just the right number of other off-stage characters in the immediate run-up to create intrigue. Consequently, there was the risk of the show becoming a farce (similar to the film “Clue” which largely steals Christie’s basic plot device) and, while Michael Smith as Justice Wargrave occasionally seemed to be heading in that direction, I am pleased to say that the cast as a whole kept the show on track and carried off the drama admirably - though a little more indignation and revulsion would not go amiss.
My only real criticism is that the tension that the cast did very well to generate was diluted by some of the technical matters. The Act 2 scene transitions were slow, and needed polishing. The audience were therefore allowed to forget the fact that the show was a ‘whodunnit’. While a number of scenes were well lit, the presence of 3 lighting blackspots - one at either side of the forestage and one dead-centre – was also an unwelcome distraction. Perhaps the use of follow spots, or a mid-stage curtain, would have allowed the scenes to flow from one to the next more smoothly and maintain the tension?
These highly technical (and perhaps slightly harsh) points aside – I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and preferred it to any talent show alternative. As for the ending? This review will not spoil the “reveal” … But I will confess to liking it. A very good production.
Steve Young - Scene One