Review: And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie Theatre Company, Ipswich Regent, to October 10

Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None's Deborah Grant and Mark Curry. Photo: Keith Mindham

Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None's Deborah Grant and Mark Curry. Photo: Keith Mindham - Credit: Keith Mindham Photography

The biggest mystery of the night was why there were so many empty seats for this adaptation of Agatha Christie’s masterpiece.

And Then There Were None's Kezia Burrows. Photo: Keith Mindham

And Then There Were None's Kezia Burrows. Photo: Keith Mindham - Credit: Keith Mindham Photography

It’s the third version of the best-selling novel I’ve seen and by far the best. I much prefer it over the more lauded The Mousetrap, which visited the Regent last year. While the plots aren’t dissimilar, this racks up the tension much more effectively. I particularly enjoyed the ending of this version, specially picked by director Joe Harmston, which is more in keeping with the novel’s ending.

A study in human behaviour under pressure, And Then There Were None’s influence can be seen in literature, film and TV - from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the movie Clue and even Big Brother.

With more than 100 million copies sold, Christie described this as the most difficult of her books to write. It sees 10 strangers lured to a remote island off the coast of Devon where, after each being accused of murder by their unseen host, they are picked off one by one in ways resembling the lines of the nursery rhyme.

Her plan was to plot something which seemed, even to her, unplottable. Unlike her other tales, while there’s no scarcity of deaths there’s a scarcity of detection on stage; the guests are soon too suspicious and paranoid. Making us privvy to their every thought hinders rather than helps armchair detectives suss who the killer is which I like.

Marking the 10th anniversary of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company and the 125th anniversary of the author’s birth, this production mines the grim tale and deliciously dark humour for all its worth. It had a star-studded cast, although Mark Curry was absent due to having a tooth extracted earlier in the day; who were all top notch. The set, soundscape and lighting really added to the atmosphere.

No doubt there will be some who, like The Mousetrap, found it old fashioned. I prefer the term classic.

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Wayne Savage

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