And Then There Were None/by Agatha Christie/directed by Diedra Celeste Miranda/Glendale Centre Theatre (GCT)/through November 17
Based on the nursery rhyme Ten Little Indians Agatha Christie's novel and play And Then There Were None cleverly follows the poem to the letter as one by one guests at an island resort are killed off. There are actually 11 characters, but one is the murderer, and in typical Christie style, the audience is baffled as to who done it. The ending is so surprisingly shocking that you should win a prize for guessing the culprit correctly. It's Christie at her deviously clever best. Now in a handsomely directed revival at GCT, director Diedra Celeste Miranda lovingly guides a top-notch ensemble through November 17.
The time is 1944; the place: Indian Island off the coast of Devon, England, which seems deliberately cut off from civilization. The guests are appropriately trapped. Without giving away too many details, 10 guests are mysteriously invited to spend a weekend at a resort here. Each has received a letter from a U. N. Owen, and each, it so happens, has been accused of a murder in their past lives. Why Owen wants them there forms the core of the play, which, as it unravels, involves doing away with all of them. Why? For that, you must wait until the closing scene. Possible culprits? There's pretty Vera Claythorne (Lydia Woods), stuffy, self-absorbed Emily Brent (Georgan George), Dr. Edward Armstrong (James Betteridge), Justice Lawrence Wargrave (Paul Michael Nieman), General John Mackenzie (Kyle Kelley), Det. William Blore (Richard Malmos), Philip Lombard (Thor Edgell), Fred Narracott (AaRon Merken), young arrogant Anthony Marston (Eric Orman) and the servants Thomas and Ethel Rogers (Scott Seiffert and Lisa Dyson). Jerome St. Jerome provides the recorded voice of U.N. Owen. As in all Christie pieces, there's a lot of talk, so you must listen carefully and observe the characters' every move if you're trying to emulate Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, who were both miraculously skilled at identifying the murderer.
The entire cast are marvelously adept and glib, and the English accents are pretty sturdy throughout. Celeste-Miranda, it is obvious, meticulously selected her group, as each, as in all mysteries, must manifest some quirk, mannerism or eccentric trait that sets him apart from the others. Take for example, the two servants the Rogers, who are terribly energetic and... funny. Both Seiffert and Dyson are terrific comic actors. Miss Brent must be pompous and introverted and George seems to convey that exacting demeanor, whereas Woods is sweet, petite and pretty carrying out the most affable qualities of innocent appearing Miss Claythorne. Those that seem too perfect I usually keep my eye on, and in zeroing in on the perpetrator, I'm usually quite good, but I must admit And Then There Were None was challenging; no, impossible.
Kudos to Angela Wood and Glendale Costumes, Andrew Villaverde on sound - so vital in this production and set decoration, uncredited for adding those extra special eerie touches.
A.T.T.W.N. is a finely paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you guessing and really entertain you. Thanks to Celeste-Miranda and her wonderful company, Agatha Christie is elaborately served.