Julia Pattison, Theatre Correspondent
And Then There Were None
Pick Me Up Theatre’s current production of And Then There Were None
, is based on the world’s best –selling mystery novel by 'Queen Of Crime' Agatha Christie. This production pips a professional production on its way to the Grand Opera House York this coming November, and I can say in all honesty that having experienced ATTWN in the intimate atmosphere of 41 Monkgate Theatre, the professional version will have a hard job to match the nail biting tension created by this talented company.
1939. Europe teeters on the brink of war. Ten strangers are invited to Soldier Island, an isolated rock near the Devon coast. The nightmare begins when one of the party dies suddenly and the guests realise they may be harbouring a murderer among their number…
Robert Readman’s superb set design dominated the space as soon as you entered the theatre, creating the perfect setting for this tense murder mystery, with fabulous attention to detail, from the authentic fireplace to the ten Terracotta soldier ornaments on the mantelpiece.
The cast gripped your attention from the beginning, each one most convincing in their roles, taking their turn in the spotlight ( spot on lighting from Will Nicholson and Adam Coggin ) at different points throughout the play. Martyn Hunter made a masterfully understated Butler, Rogers, joined by his real wife Jeanette Hunter in the role of his Housekeeper wife, clearly showing her frustration to comic effect, at the unreasonable domestic pressures put upon her by absent hosts Mr and Mrs U.N. Owen.
Mike Hickman was obviously in his element playing lively Captain Lombard, with Andrew Roberts relishing his role as sports car-driving Anthony Marson. There was a real 1930s air created by the cast, who all gave “ Wizard “ performances. Ian Giles brought a real poignancy to his portrayal of General Mackenzie, and Mark Simmonds showed his versatility as an actor playing nervous nerve Dr Armstrong with great authority at the beginning of the play, then slowly but surely unravelling mentally as the tension mounted in
Act 2. Jessica Murray had clearly mastered the art of scathing looks in her role as haughty, judgemental Emily Brent, and director Andrew Isherwood revelled in his role of William Blore, who wasn’t all he pretended to be, adding to the general air of mystery created in Act 1.
In Act 2 the tension escalated, with Rory Mulvihill and Florence Poskitt stealing the show at various times, commanding the space with their compelling performances as Sir Lawrence Wargrave, an imposing criminal judge, and Vera Claythorne, who became increasingly hysterical, and nearly raised the roof with her blood-curdling screams.
Who was the murderer? You’ll have to buy a ticket to find out – no spoilers here. All I will say is, look out for one of the most dramatic endings I’ve seen in a long time!
And Then There Were None 41 Monkgate, York until Saturday 30th September 2023.