And Then There Were None Review at Newcastle Theatre Royal
And Then There Were None – Tuesday 17th October
From the iconic Agatha Christie book, Lucy Bailey has adapted this thrilling crime novel into a wonderful piece of theatre. And Then There Were None is the best selling crime novel of all time and with its gripping storyline you can see why.
Based in a solitary mansion on Soldier Island in Devon our cast of ten soon realize things aren’t quite as they seem. All invited there by various ways and means through mysterious letters they receive, they are quickly cut off from the mainland by an awful storm. Christie’s way of writing is truly outstanding and she manages to leave a trail of suspense and mystery throughout.
Bailey has truly brought this 1939 book upto date and straight to our stages. This isn’t the first production I’ve seen of an Agatha Christie story but I have to say I was thoroughly entertained throughout. I do often find the beginning of these plays a little slow as we are meeting all of the characters but I do understand that it is necessary in order to understand the storyline. It soon picked up pace and the evening flew by.
The stage was expertly crafted and I enjoyed the use of the gauze at the beginning providing mystery as the characters all read their letters they had received. The staging was very grand and looked every inch the mansion it was meant to be. The painting on the set and the huge doorways looked amazing. Gigantic chandeliers and the bear rug all played integral parts to both the setting and storyline. I loved the sloped staging as well to represent the beach and thought this was very cleverly constructed and used by the cast. A very well done to Mike Britton on set design.
I thought the huge drapes of gauze were used well throughout especially in the scenes where they were thinking about their pasts but I do feel as though they were a little cumbersome to move and could look slightly messy. I think this could be tightened up in some areas. Definitely not my favourite thing I’ve seen on stage in terms of design.
The ten little soldiers nursery rhyme played a pivotal role throughout and this really set the eerie scene incredibly well. Guests were whittled down with many torturous murders which fit in keeping with the rhyme. This truly made it all the more terrifying and the use of the glass soldiers on the dining table was ingenious. I was left wondering how they were all disappearing so seamlessly. Very cleverly thought out.
The cast of ten were all immensely talented and brought all of the drama and tension to the stage. Some actors particularly shone last night however as they threw all of their acting chops at it. When they first graced the stage I found the sound to be a little quiet and felt like this should have been more balanced as I was straining to hear at some points. Now it was a very mixed audience but there were quite a few of the older generation who attended who I feel may have also found it difficult to hear. The Theatre Royal was packed out though and it was extremely busy during half time showing its popularity. Christie’s storylines really do transcend generations!
First to grace the stage was the deadly twosome of the serving staff- Jane Pinchbeck played by Nicola May Taylor and Georgina Rogers played by Lucy Treager. Both gave such energy to their performances particularly Treager who was clearly experienced upon the stage. A really great job and they handled the props on stage well. They did a lot of the maneuvering of items and they did a stellar job.
Next up was the stunning Sophie Walter who played Vera Claythorne. She played this character with such likeability and towards the end such ferociousness she was definitely the stand out for the evening for me. She met her end in a pretty graphic way however and I know there is a trigger warning on the website. I think this should be even more clearly identified as it left me horrified. Truly a ghastly end to the show!
Captain Phillip Lombard was played by Joseph Beattie who was my other stand out of the evening. He played his role with such arrogance it seemed so real. Truly the baddie of the crew and in those final scenes his energy and presence on stage was so special. The two paired together were truly brilliant and created such thrilling scenes packed with suspense. I didn’t know whether to look or hide behind my coat!
You could tell there were some acting veterans in our presence in the form of Bob Barrett as Doctor Armstrong and David Yelland as Judge Wargrave. We really got to see so many facets of each of their personalities on stage and they shared that emotion so well upon the stage. They made me feel at ease whenever I was watching them, giving so much believability to the role.
The rest of the acting cast did a great job too in the form of Matt Weyland, Katy Stephens, Andrew Lancel, Oliver Clayton and General Mackenzie. Some of their characters were truly despicable and at times not very likable, especially Clayton’s role as Marston!
I thought the stage craft from them all was excellent throughout the performance and really enjoyed their use of spacing across the stage. Particularly their use of the outside area of the beach on the slopes stage. The deaths were all rather dramatic and they made them look so believable I was just glad we didn’t see them all! During the dinner scene the slow motion acting was so impactful and the use of the dead coming back to life as different characters was a clever use of cast and crew. The scene in which their searching for the gun was also amazing and felt truly manic. Particularly when the music came on and the use of the red lighting symbolized blood and death amongst the drunken dancing and scandal. The lighting was used to full effect last night and I did let out a little panic when we plunged into darkness at one point. Very cleverly mapped out to build upon the fear factor they wanted to give. Well done to Chris Davey on Lighting Design!
My final thoughts of the evening summed up are this is a really great storyline which was jam packed with perfect amounts of suspense, tension and fear. Best of all, I guessed Who Dunnit! I wonder if you’ll be able to do the same? If you want an evening full of fun trying to figure out this crime I would definitely recommend. Just be prepared to bring your A game and don’t get too scared!
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