Murders, She Wrote

Everybody on the island has done something worthy of execution.

No matter what you call it, And Then There Were None is Agatha Christie’s greatest hit, bigger than The Mousetrap. It feels like the Clue game board, without Colonel Mustard, because it looks as though everyone on the isolated island near Devonshire is going to be bumped off, until . . . . But you can’t psych this one out. Everybody on the island has done something worthy of execution, and Christie, a champion of the Christian dogma of original sin, thinks we’re all guilty. In the original novel (sales 100 million), titled Ten Little Indians, she prescribed one ending, but when she revised the work for the stage, she changed the climax. The Indians have been changed to figurine soldier boys, who get knocked off the mantel as the bodies fall.

For Central New York Playhouse’s production (running through June 28), director Jon Wilson, who knows this property well, has assembled a cast of familiar faces and newcomers, and has worked for authenticity as well as suspense. Everyone maintains the 1940s look through multiple costume changes, and nearly everyone keeps up British accents of different classes and regions.

Heading the familiar faces are Mark Allen Holt as the romantic soldier of fortune Philip Lombard, and Dan Stevens as the insufferable “hanging judge” Sir Lawrence Wargrave. David Vickers and Heather J. Roach as the servants are properly ambiguous. Both Tracy Martin’s religious fanatic and John LaCasse’s doddering general kick off to comic effect. And lovely Alicia Bronzetti as Vera gains strength as the plot becomes more dangerous.

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