And Then There Were None

Date 17th March 2022
Society Water Lane Theatre Company
Venue South Mill Arts, Bishops Stortford
Type of Production Play
Director Will Jamieson

Report

Author: Tessa Davies

I was made very welcome when I arrived and once sat in the auditorium, I observed a very good looking standing set.  I have not actually seen this play before but, being an avid Agatha Christie reader in the past I was aware of the twist to the plot at the denouement.  However, I could not remember which character was the murderer, so this did not detract from my enjoyment of the play.

It was the first performance, for this company after a long, enforced, break and the play was a little stilted to begin with.  However, the cast soon settled into their characters, all of which were very well portrayed.  First, we were introduced to Mr and Mrs Rogers (Vanessa Povey and Paul Winspear) both good characterisations as they set the scene.  They were joined by John Bell, giving a strong performance as Captain Lombard and Becky Faulkner, playing the newly appointed secretary Vera Claythorne, a very stylish performance.  We were gradually introduced to the rest of this house party, not all of whom turned out to be the person they originally claimed to be.  That is typical Agatha Christie and adds to the enjoyment, as we tried to work out who was genuine and who was not!  

Andy Roberts played Blore, with a pretty good South African accent, who turned out to be a retired English detective. Jem Deans joined the cast at a very late stage in the rehearsal period and his characterisation of a confused and elderly General Mackenzie was very good.  Yes, he had a few issues with dialogue but, given the short period he had to get into the play, it was a performance to be commended.   I particularly liked Jack Stevens for his short but enjoyable portrayal of Anthony Marston, the first to fall victim to the mysterious murderer.  Amanda Green for her Dr Armstrong, a nicely judged and well considered performance and Granville Rush for his commanding performance as Judge Wargrave.  The cast was completed by Billie Kerr, playing a very uptight and self-righteous Emily Brent, a lovely characterisation but her lack of projection made it difficult to hear her dialogue at times.  Indeed, there was a lack of projection from one or two other members of the cast at odd times throughout the play.  I got the distinct impression that they may not have been used to working the larger auditorium of the Arts Centre.  Finally, Greg Hill playing Narracott with a commendable west country accent.

This was quite a large cast and, occasionally, when they were all on stage together, there was some ‘masking’ as characters at the back of the stage were hidden behind those at the front, not usually an issue but when they had dialogue, it did make it tricky to see who was speaking.

The costumes were very good, perfectly matched to the play and, apart from a random gunshot that was late, all the sound effects added to the atmosphere.  It was the first night and there were issues with one set of French doors, but I am sure that this was remedied for the remaining performances.

Overall, a very enjoyable evening and I never did remember who the murderer was so the denouement was a good close to the play.

My thanks to the company for their hospitality, it was a pleasure to watch the performance.