Sunday, July 14

And Then There Were None – The Alexandra

When first I read “And Then There Were”, a novel sensibly shorn of its original title, I closed the final page convinced that no one for a thousand pounds could work out how the murder was done. The explanation was so profoundly improbable and bizarrely unlikely as to warrant a well-deserved grunt and a huff and a sigh of incredulity from this reader. However, despite my lowly opinion, the book has found its place as a (if not “the”) best-selling crime novel of all time. Quite a claim in such a packed genre with everyone from Richard Osman to Alan Titchmarsh having a crack. We love murders! We love detectives – be they little old ladies, vain Belgians or high-functioning sociopaths in deerstalkers. This tome by the indisputable monarch of murder, Agatha Christie, (Dame of the British Empire and now, an even greater honour, a trademark!) was published in 1939 to huge acclaim and in the interim has been transformed into television adaptations and films, but here we have the stage adaptation.

It’s a plethora of familiar faces from telly we’ve all seen before but can’t always put a name to. No one too famous that their sit-com shadow hangs over them. These are all seasoned pros and they all bring their wealth of experience to bear. Oddly, no one seems to be credited as the adaptor of this, but Lucy Bailey’s name looms large on the poster – are we to assume she dunnit?

Photo: Manuel Harlan

Bob Barrett, Joseph Beattie, Oliver Clayton, Jeffrey Kissoon, Andrew Lancel, Louise McNulty, Nicola May-Taylor, Lucy Tregear, Sophie Walter, Matt Weyland and David Yelland all deftly and adroitly assume their roles and like in all good Agatha Christie’s, no single character is given precedence over another, so we’re left wondering who did what to whom with what until the very final moment …

Bailey’s open stage production is both engaging and absorbing and thoroughly entertaining with murder and laughs talking equal place without drifting into parody. It’s a truly perplexing plot which intensifies with every death and, though occasionally self-consciously stylised, more than compensates with some stunning twists, turns and very surprising surprises!

Of course, I can’t give it away and, if you see it, neither should you. But what you can give away is how cleverly adapted from the book this is. Perhaps a little ponderous in its early exposition but once the first murder occurs, we are on the edge of our seats and stay there throughout right to the final reveal and the very well deserved standing-ovation.

Reviewer: Peter Kinnock

Reviewed: 5th March 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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