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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE @ THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH

🎭 And Then There Were None 

📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Tuesday 12th March 2024

⭐️⭐️



A CRIME AGAINST CHRISTIE


And Then There Were None by Queen of crime Agatha Christie is the best-selling crime novel of all time and the latest stage adaptation of the story is currently playing at Theatre Royal Plymouth where I was invited to watch the play.


I am a huge fan of Christie's work and the location of this play was inspired by Burgh Island which is 15 minutes from my home so I was loving the local feeling, and the references to Plymouth made for a great familiarity with aspects of the show.


The story itself is strong, but then I would expect nothing less. 10 strangers are brought to a remote island after recieving invites to a soiree. Their host is nowhere to be seen, apparently detained in London, and one by one the guests begin to die - or be murdered.


As the guests realise they are stranded, they each fear for their lives. They come to the realisation that they are being killed off in a starkly familiar way. All the deaths seem to be related to a poem - 10 Little Soldier Boys - which is in their rooms.


Can the survivors work together to solve the mystery and live long enough to make it safely off the island?



Unfortunately the strength of the story is severely let down by what is sadly a boring production. Somehow this production has managed to completely strip away any tension and suspense and create a tedious theatrical experience. The lighting design is good and the set is functional yet feels as if it has been created on a tight budget. It's a shame but there is a distinctly cheap feeling surrounding the entire production.


The sound was poor and it appears that the actors are not individually mic'd meaning that there are times when it is difficult to hear what is being said, easily being drowned out by coughs and whispers from the audience. The footsteps of the actors however were really loud, furthering my suspitions that it was the stage that was mic'd rather than the actors.


Some of the creative choices feel really weird such as the slow motion flashbacks playing out at the back of the stage. Perhaps this is to create a cinematic feel but movies are a very different medium to theatre and this does not work here.


Also when a character dies there is a weird moment where they take centre stage and then walk off. I have no idea what this is trying to achieve but it just feels out of place, as does the little scene when some of the characters dance.


It seems the aim of the production is to update the story for a modern audience, but it fails to do this. The old saying of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" screams to me here. Directional choices are bad with slaps and fights being lacklustre and disappointing.


I'm always in favour of artistic licence and things such as gender swapping characters, but swapping the husband and wife in the story for a lesbian couple here feels more like a tick-box exercise and does nothing.



As much as there are negatives here it's important for me to share the positives too and there are some phenominal performances. David Yelland has great gravitas as Judge Wargrave and is utterly believable throughout. Joseph Beattie gives an exceptional performance as Philip Lombard, demanding your attention and making you want to know more about him, while Sophie Walter as Vera Claythorne is kindly and natural, keeping many of the scenes together with her triumphant portrayal. Nicola May-Taylor as Jane Pinchbeck was also wonderful and it would have been nice to see more of her.


Unfortunately though it felt as if the role of Emily Brent was overacted by Katy Stephens as was the part of William Blore portrayed by Andrew Lancel. The decision to make these two characters over the top caricatures was not a good directional choice and the two different accents of Blore were hard to differenciate.


It also felt as if Anthony Marston was a throwaway character and Oliver Clayton could have had so much fun in the role if he had been allowed to play around with his portrayal.


For me personally I was bitterly disappointed by this production. I never thought I would be bored watching an Agatha Christie story but that's exactly what happened here. A fantastic story and accomplished cast are severely let down by poor creative choices which have taken the life out of the play.


As I always say, this is my personal opinion and I always encourage my readers to make up their own minds. And Then There Were None is playing at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 16th March and tickets are available here.


Neill Kovacic-Clarke


All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest, fair and free from influence. Theatre is subjective and it is important to remember that all views expressed are just those of one reviewer.


My ticket for this performance of And Then There Were None was gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to watch the show in exchange for my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the content of my review or the star rating given.



CAST LIST:

Bob Barrett as Doctor Armstrong; Joseph Beattie as Philip Lombard; Oliver Clayton as Anthony Marston / Arthur Richmond; Jeffery Kissoon as General Mackenzie; Andrew Lancel as William Blore; Nicola May-Taylor as Jane Pinchbeck / Beatrice Taylor; Katy Stephens as Emily Brent; Lucy Tregear as Georgina Rogers; Sophie Walter as Vera Claythorne; Matt Weyland as Fred Narracott; David Yelland as Judge Wargrave


RUNNING TIME (approx):

2 hours 30 minutes, including interval


CONTENT WARNINGS:

Themes of death, grief and guilt; Reference to, and depictions of, murder, manslaughter and suicide by hanging; Blood imagry; Gun shots; Flashing lights


AGE RECOMMENDATION:

12+ parental guidance




The Theatre Royal Plymouth is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the largest and most attended regional producing theatre in the country. Their mission is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue offers three performance spaces of various sizes, the largest being The Lyric which accommodates the big touring productions. The Drum and The Lab are smaller, intimate spaces and often offer pioneering productions.

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