Tuesday, June 18

And Then There Were None – Rainhill Village Hall

Agatha Christie’s most popular novel from 1939 – and apparently the bestselling crime novel of all time – is a quintessentially English affair with almost as many copies of it in circulation as The Bible and in too many languages to count. The perfect vehicle for the array of talent that makes up Rainhill Garrick Society, and with the action all taking place in the living room of a house on an island off the coast of Devon, it had the added benefit of the real sound effects from a stormy windblown night outside to add to the suspense on stage.

Two servants, Rogers (Rob Williams) and Mrs Rogers (Ruth Proffitt) and eight strangers – secretary Vera Claythorne (Sophie Brogan); adventurer Philip Lombard (Richard Parker); lady-about-town Antonia Marston (Alison Mawdsley); retired police inspector William Blore (George Lowe); retired General Mackenzie (Gerald Walker); earnest Emily Brent (Elizabeth Munro); retired judge Sir Lawrence Wargrave (Rick Young); and Dr Armstrong (Tom Nevitt) have received invitations to attend a soiree at Soldier Island, arriving in turn courtesy of boatman, Fred Narracott (Tim Evans).

When the gramophone plays ‘The Swan Song’ accusing each one of a crime that resulted in a murder, it quickly becomes apparent that the mysterious and notably absent hosts, Mr and Mrs U.N. Owen, have plans to ensure that justice is duly served up to the rhyme of ten little soldiers. Christie of course had to change the ending when she dramatised her novel in 1943 but under the accomplished direction of David Parker, Rainhill Garrick Society has thrown another cat amongst the pigeons as we get to choose one of three possible endings – or do we? Whodunnit indeed!

It’s a slow burner with the opening act serving to introduce and present a backstory for the ten characters which could prove challenging to a modern audience more used to the trend for immediate action and impact, but the natural chemistry and competence of this cast serves the production well as the intrigue is believably set out, the suspense hinted at and the drama maintained, with the challenge of having a full cast on stage managed through some excellent blocking.

Richard Parker’s set design was exquisite with its art deco wallpaper and furniture and costumes befitting of the period and reinforced by its attention to detail with candle lit scenes illuminated by Graham Swift and the sense of isolation echoed through Lynn Aconley’s sounds of the waves, wind, and seagulls.

All of the cast carefully captured their characters’ mannerisms, foibles, and unravelling behaviour around and towards each other as one by one our ten lurch towards one, perfectly balancing Christie’s witty one liners whilst maintaining the darker undertones that kept the audience on the edge of their seats and generated a variety of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ in all the right places: they say you can’t go wrong with Christie but you’ve got to have the nous to deliver it and we certainly had that tonight with the suspense maintained right up until the end.

The company’s chosen charity for this production is Alzheimer’s Society, with Richard Parker undertaking The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge on 8th June to raise much needed funds to support the amazing work that they do, and which helps so many people. You can support his fundraising at www.justgiving.com/page/richard-parker-1704969204078

Rainhill Village Hall is a short walking distance from Rainhill Station (Liverpool-Manchester line) with free parking also available (post code for the hall is L35 4LU). There are also lot of amazing restaurants and bars in Rainhill village, so you could treat yourself before the show and make a night of it.

And Then There Were None performs at Rainhill Village Hall from 16th-18th May at 7.30pm with tickets priced at £8 and available from Rainhill Post Office or by calling 01744 606067. Alternatively, tickets can be booked online via www.ticketsource.co.uk/rainhill-garrick-society

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 16th May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.