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And Then There Were None at the Theatre Royal Windsor

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 15th Jan 2015 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

Queen of Crime Dame Agatha Christie was born 125 years ago this year. So what better way to celebrate than with The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, which began a grand tour of her most popular and best-selling murder mystery, And Then There Were None, at Windsor this week?

The company is itself celebrating a milestone. It is 10 years since Agatha Christie’s estate gave producer Bill Kenwright exclusive rights to tour her original stage plays under the banner of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, and some of our most esteemed actors have starred in them: Tom Conti, Robert Powell, Martin Shaw, Liza Goddard, Jenny Seagrove…

This production is no exception. Paul Nicholas, ably abetted by Dalziel and Pascoe’s Colin Buchanan, former Emmerdale stars Verity Rushworth and Frazer Hines, and Company regulars Susan Penhaligon, Mark Curry and Ben Nealon, are among the cast.

Filmed many times in various settings, this production has been taken back to the time it was written, in the 1930s, and is, therefore, a period piece, with Simon Scullion’s wonderful art deco set and costumes by Roberto Surace to match.

But elegance and sophistication are only on the surface. Stranded on an island with no means of communication or escape, the 10 guests of an elusive millionaire have their dark secrets exposed before each of them - bar one! – is murdered.

The opening scene is a great way of introducing the characters as they arrive for, what they think is, a weekend house party. And there are some surprises. Paul Nicholas is gaunt, grey-haired and slightly sinister as an elderly high court judge, not at all the twinkling charmer he usually is. And I can never get over how Susan Penhaligon, whom I remember in the original series of Bouquet of Barbed Wire, now seems to specialise in playing matrons. As Emily Brent she certainly gives Dame Edith Evans’ Lady Bracknell a run for her money, but her expertise at playing old is so depressing – there are only three days between hers and my birthdays! That aside, this first scene felt long and drawn out, and it was only when the murders began that I became more engaged. The claustrophobic feeling of being trapped also didn’t always come across, though Verity Rushworth as the millionaire’s secretary can certainly do hysterical!

It was only the opening night, however, and I’m sure distinguished director Joe Harmston will have the production up to speed by now. Meanwhile, it is great fun wondering who is going to die next and how, and I also found myself staring at the mantelpiece where ’10 little soldier boys’ are lined up under the nursery rhyme which heralds each murderous deed. For as one person died then one of the soldier boys disappeared, but only once did I think I saw an actor surreptitiously pocket one.

And Then There Were None is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until January 24

Box Office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

It will then tour:

Jan 26-31: Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

Feb 2-7: Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

Feb 16-21: Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Feb 23-28: Regent Theatre, Stoke

Mar 2-7: Pomegranate, Chesterfield

Mar 9-14: Congress Theatre, Eastbourne

Mar 16-21: Festival Theatre, Malvern

Mar 17-23: Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Mar 30-Apr 4: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Apr 7-11: Clywd Theatr Cymru, Mold

Apr 13-18: Theatre Royal, Bath

Apr 20-25: Grand Theatre, Blackpool

May 26-30: Richmond Theatre

June 1-6: The Woodville, Gravesend

June 8-13: The Hawth Theatre, Crawley

June 22-27 Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon

Jun 30-Jul 4: New Theatre, Cardiff

Jul 13-17: Theatre Royal, Brighton

Jul 2-25: Milton Keynes Theatre

Jul 27-Aug 1: Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Aug 17-22: Leeds Grand

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