REVIEW: And Then There Were None at the Crescent Theatre | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

REVIEW: And Then There Were None at the Crescent Theatre

Culture Critic Melissa Veitch reviews the lighthearted production of Agatha Christie's classic story, And Then There Were None.

10 strangers invited to an island under mysterious circumstances. Each of them has a secret to hide. Cut off from the mainland, one by one they are murdered in a manner suggested by the lines of a sinister nursery rhyme…

Whilst the story sounds frightening, The Crescent Theatre’s And Then There Were None was actually very funny and light, and fantastically done. The quick-witted dialogue combined with some deft physical comedy and sound effects had the audience in stitches, even creating chuckles out of the most gruesome murders.

The play was undoubtedly buoyed by strong performances by the cast. In a small play with so many characters, it can be challenging to ensure each one is fleshed out and distinctive. But the actors were superb, especially Tanya Coleman’s Emily Brent, who’s self-righteous disgust brought many laughs. Each character felt fully realized with their own distinctive motivations and suspicions, meaning the audience was constantly thrown off the scent and had to keep guessing. 

the light hearted, and comedic alterations changed the entire tone of Christie’s masterpiece

The music was a clever touch, adding a modern twist to the production and an interesting dichotomy between the period story and the contemporary tunes. The director, Jaz Davison said he was encouraged to use this technique from Baz Luhrman’s well acclaimed and skilfully fresh Great Gatsby soundtrack. He was inspired particularly in his music choices by Disturbed’s cover of Sound of Silence to explore Heavy Metal, and it worked very neatly into the broader themes of suspense and danger in the play.

The set design was also very cleverly done, the entire play taking place within the living room helped create a sense of being trapped for the characters and cut off from everyone. It also succeeded in the Davison’s intended effect of making all the characters visible, with nowhere to hide from the murderer. A particular smart choice in the design was the placing of the famous 10 little Indians of the nursery rhyme on the mantelpiece in full view of the audience at all times, representing each of the 10 characters. As the guests dropped off one by one their figurine counterparts mysteriously disappeared, ratcheting up the anticipation for the audience as we wondered who would be next to die.

However, whilst I applaud the production for attempting a fresh new take upon Christie’s most popular story, the light hearted, and comedic alterations changed the entire tone of Christie’s masterpiece. The fear and suspense aspects were lacking in the pacing of the production, with some earlier scenes feeling dragged out, but the actual murders taking place in such quick succession that the mystery of the whodunit felt slightly rushed. Those expecting a performance that really showcases the eerie nature of play will be disappointed, as the despair and peril that made the original book so popular have been sacrificed for laughs and a happier ending. 

a hilarious, well-acted, and cleverly directed piece that showcased a fun mystery that everyone would enjoy

Yet, the lighter take on Agatha Christie’s story makes it well suited to a broader age range and brings a less disconsolate tone. The changes to the plot lines also served to make the play more hopeful thus more accessible to a wider range of audiences and bring a wonderful new surprise to those already familiar with the original.

And Then There Were None was a hilarious, well-acted, and cleverly directed piece that showcased a fun mystery that everyone would enjoy. To invent a new twist upon a well-known story is very brave and creative, and certainly much more cheerful. Yet, when the source material is from Dame Agatha Christie herself, sometimes it is better to leave the famous reveal endings untouched.

 



Published

7th March 2018 at 2:36 pm



Images from

The Crescent Theatre



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