Feather Theatre Company’s And Then There Were None immerses you in the world of the murder mystery in a classic tale written by the master of the genre herself, Agatha Christie. Although it was, rather predictably, a slow build at first, in the 2nd and 3rd acts the play really gathered momentum and tension as it hurtled towards a captivating ending. And Then There Were None follows a group of 10 seemingly unconnected people who soon discover they are trapped on a remote island with a murderer amongst their ranks.
Of course, this set up requires a strong ensemble cast, and the talent on show was impressive considering that auditions were only open to Mildertians. Having said this, a greater attention to diction would have benefitted several of the cast members at times, as some lines were garbled even in the intimate space of City Theatre. Stand-out performers included Hamish Inglis, who gave a touching portrayal of the somewhat batty General Mckenzie, and Matthew Chalmers (Dr Armstrong), who convincingly depicted his character’s mental breakdown in the 2nd act. Nicola Samosa (Anthony Marston), also showed off some nice cross-gender characterisation. I especially enjoyed Dan Hodgkinson’s performance as Judge Lawrence Wargrave. His stage presence really meant he stood out from the pack, and his monologues, especially towards the end, were delivered with great conviction.
The acting, of course, was not without its flaws. Mo Hafeez (William Blore) exhibited some suspect accent work at the start of the play, even though one could argue that this was deliberately so. Whilst Hugh Johnston did a nice job of showing off the unpleasantness of Phillip Lombard, I felt he didn’t really develop his character as the play progressed, something which could’ve been aided with greater variation in delivery and facial expression.
A solid ensemble was aided by an impressive array of costumes that fitted their characters perfectly. Producer Sophie Griffiths, in her first DST production, deserves tremendous credit for procuring these, no doubt with the help of Assistant Producer Luke Titmuss, but without a specific costume designer. The set was equally well put together and both helped to transport the audience to the pre-war setting. The deaths (I don’t think that’s a spoiler, this is a murder mystery after all) were executed perfectly, and were accompanied to chilling effect by the “10 Little Indian Boys” nursery rhyme that is crucial to the plot. On the subject of the Indian boys I was disappointed that the Indian boy dolls were presented in such a way that it wasn’t really possible to tell how many were left, which undermined the effectiveness of their symbolism. There was also a moment when a character professed to be reading from a Bible when they book’s cover said otherwise, but this shouldn’t dampen the show’s otherwise very smooth production.
Director Myriam Rapior’s Durham debut was an assured one, helping her cast to produce some nice characterisation, and showing good blocking ability to coordinate their movements on a small and crowded stage. My only bugbear was that she had one of the production team members act as a prompter. At one point an actor did have to receive the prompter’s help, completely breaking the audience’s suspension of disbelief at a moment when tension was mounting. In such situations I would always prefer to leave the actors to work around it, as an awkward silence is far better than something as jarring as a prompt.
Overall, Feather Theatre Company should be proud of their Michaelmas term production, as it really shows off the range of talent and thriving drama community at their college, and a sell-out run is a just reward for their efforts.