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And Then There Were None

a Murder Mystery
by Agatha Christie

COMPANY : Act 3 Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Act 3 Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 5031

SHOWING : February 10, 2017 - February 25, 2017



Ten guilty strangers are trapped on an island. One by one they are accused of murder; one by one they start to die. Eight guests who have never met each other or their apparently absent host and hostess are lured to the island and, along with the two house servants, marooned. A mysterious voice accuses each of having gotten away with murder and then one drops dead - poisoned. One down and nine to go! As those in the house succumb to a diabolical avenger, a nursery rhyme tells how each will meet their death until there are none.

Director Amy Lucas
Assistant Director Michael Rostek
Set Designer Brian Clements
Costume Designer Alyssa Jackson
Lighting Designer David Reingold
Sound Designer Ben Sterling
Stage Manager Dawn Zachariah
Dr. Armstrong Alisha Boley
Anthony Marston Alex Burcar
Phillip Lombard Gwydion Calder
General McKenzie James Connor
Emily Brent Gisele Frame
Vera Claythorne Emma Greene
Fred Narracot Joshua Herndon
Mrs. Rogers Jessica Hiner
Sir Lawrence Wargrave R. Clay Johnson
William Blore Paul Milliken
Rogers Toby Smallwood
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Does Everybody Die?
by playgoer
Monday, February 27, 2017
Act3 Productions is presenting a version of Agatha Christie’s "And Then There Were None" that hews closely to the original story, as opposed to having the "Hollywood ending" usually seen in productions of the otherwise-named "Ten Little Indians." That makes this production a bit longer than most, and adds a bit of uncertainty as to ultimate outcome. Will there be any survivors?

The cast of eleven consists of Fred Narracott, a Devonshire boatman, in addition to the ten people invited to an isolated, rocky island to face their host’s charges of murder. The action takes place in a somewhat bare sitting room and its adjoining patio outside French doors. The set, designed by Brian Clements, is eminently workable, but shows little sense of style and appears somewhat sloppy in its construction, with the large stencils on the wall not lining up on the vertical and with seams between flats fairly obvious. Having just a blue drop outside the patio does not evoke the locale, and Ben Sterling’s sound design does not help, giving us no ocean sounds other than a boat horn. His music selections between scenes, though, are terrific at setting the time period and/or ratcheting up tension.

Lighting design, by David Reingold, has a couple of fairly effective moments with lightning and shadows, but tends toward the murky. This murkiness was pronounced at the performance I attended, when a major light illuminating stage left seemed to blink off early (and permanently) in the first act. This made a costuming choice involving a bath curtain and skein of wool totally invisible to my eyes. Otherwise, costumes (designed by Alyssa Jackson) work relatively well, particularly in setting the time period. One catty line about a dress being tight doesn’t ring true, however, due to the dress in question being just as shapeless as the one worn by the person uttering the line. Younger men wearing hats indoors for extended periods at the start of the show also doesn’t quite ring true for the period, which is likewise true of the unkempt hairstyle of Alex Burcar as Anthony Marston and the stubble on Gwydion Calder’s face as Philip Lombard.

Amy Cain Lucas has blocked the action to keep sightlines clear and to allow steady movement across the stage. Manipulation of the ten statuettes on the fireplace mantle stage left is done masterfully, as statuettes (and characters) meet their end, one by one. One nice pre-show touch is having the servants (Toby Smallwood and Jessica Hiner) enter repeatedly to set out props in preparation for the soon-to-be-arriving guests.

All the actors have clearly defined characters in which they appear confident. Interactions in the first act are sometimes a bit sluggish, but tension builds in the next two acts, with the performances growing stronger by those actors whose characters manage to stay alive the longest. Everyone manages a British accent, all but one to an acceptable degree. Paul Milliken, as William Blore, gives a strong, charismatic performance, but doesn’t seem to have grasped that a British accent requires more than sprinkling British word pronunciations into American speech patterns. Still, this is an excellent ensemble cast who bring Agatha Christie’s characters to life, at least until those lives are snuffed out, one by one. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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