Review of Loft Theatre Company production of And Then There Were None (2016)

This is Agatha Christie at her most complex and surprising.

It remains her most popular work, uniting fans and non-fans in appreciating a drama that twists and turns while examining some of the less savoury traits of human nature.

And all without the stereotypical probing of a clever-dick Poirot or a dithering Miss Marple.

The 10 people assembled on a lonely island by an unseen host might well seem a superficial lot but they are ciphers for a dark exploration of nastiness and guilt within the human psyche. This aspect is cleverly realised in William Wilkinson’s taut production which teases us into trying to catch the little line of toy soldiers on the shelf being whittled down as each murder occurs.

It’s riveting stuff, superbly staged. Inevitability is the keyword of the plot, but it’s also what ensures the fun element, along with shadowy images on walls and a splendidly eerie candlelit sequence.

Imagination runs ahead of us as one character goes upstairs in search of her lost skein of wool. Another comes out with the anticipated: ‘We’re all going to die, you know!’ And the harsh, brittle nature of some of the people is typified when a young mad-driver woman comments on ‘a couple of kids I ran over near Cambridge.’

For the first half, the production has a constant sense of motion as the guests swirl about the stage, peering and mingling. This contrasts effectively with later moments of frightened stillness. Richard Moore’s set design neatly allows for period (1930s) flavour, so essential to true Christie-land.

Performances are well developed as a tightly maintained ensemble. Each one has its own merits, with particularly striking work from Richard Terry’s brash and pushy ex-copper, Martin Cosgrif as a forbidding former hanging judge and Elspeth Dales as a panic-stricken doctor.

The play illuminates the power and toughness which are not always attributed to Dame Agatha’s writing – and this production, despite a couple of minor script transgressions from the original novel, captures them brilliantly. A hugely entertaining evening.

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Independent reviews by Peter McGarry

Peter McGarry is an experienced, independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to review Loft Theatre Company productions.

The agreement with the Loft is that Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The Loft Theatre Company has no control whatsoever over the content of these reviews and will never comment publicly on what he writes.