2nd Story’s And Then There Were None
2nd Story Theatre makes the good even better with this summer’s fabulous production.By Kathie Raleigh
Agatha Christie secured her reputation as a mystery writer by penning an incredible 66 detective novels, but her fame could have been made on just one: “And Then There Were None.”
As familiar as we are with the Christie formula, Dame Agatha really out maneuvers her audience on this one. Characters aren’t whom they appear to be, and suspicion shifts constantly among them. There are gun shots, a power outage on the proverbial dark and stormy night, plus a boatload of red herrings.
It’s all great fun, and 2nd Story Theatre makes the good even better with this summer’s fabulous production. A cast of top-notch actors creates distinctive characters and then whips through the script, coming in at a hair under two hours, including a couple brief intermissions. It’s a fast pace, but no moment of foreboding is short-changed, no significant comment overlooked, and you just might feel a little shiver up your spine.
The story, taken from a 19th century rhyme with the now politically incorrect title of “Ten Little Injuns,” deals with 10 people invited by an unknown host to a gathering at the only house on a remote island off the coast of England. None of them knows the others, but it seems their host knows a lot about all of them. On their first night together, a recording is played that reveals each has a connection to murder. Then, one by one, they start falling victim to murder themselves.
So whodunit? We’re not telling, and even if you know, you’ll enjoy watching these actors portray their characters. Each is as vivid as the next, but we love Sharon Carpentier as the put upon cook and housekeeper, Mrs. Rogers, and Paula Faber as the rigidly moral Miss Brent. Faber gets credit for delivering that shiver as she is the first to point out that one of 10 figurines on the mantle has disappeared with the first murder.
Jay Bragan infuses his Captain Lombard with loads of humor that makes his devil-may-care attitude authentic – as well as a source of conflict with the prevaricating Mr. Blore, played by Nathanael Lee in a well thought out characterization. And as the bodies pile up, it’s Erin Elliott as Miss Claythorne who goes through a range of emotions, including a look of true terror when faced with her own death.
The setting for all the mystery and mayhem is the elegant island abode of the unseen host, and designer Karl Pelletier uses details that tell a story in themselves of the island location, the wealth of the owner, and an era several decades past.
It’s gorgeous and interesting, and that’s important because this same set will be used for the next play in 2nd Story’s summer season: Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever.” This play also involves guests invited for a weekend, but it’s farce, not mystery, that propels the characters. The two productions will run in alternating weeks through Aug. 31, and part of the entertainment is seeing how the set “performs.”