And Then There Were None ~ Stoke Repertory Theatre

And Then There Were None was produced by United National Productions Limited, they will be producing further pieces at Stoke Repertory Theatre in 2018. Watch this space…

Star rating: *****

Having reviewed The Hollow at Stoke Repertory Theatre earlier this year, also care of United National Productions Limited, and thoroughly enjoyed the exceptional staging of one of Agatha Christie’s masterpieces – I anticipated great things from their version of And Then There Were None. I was not disappointed, in fact the production blew me away and had me on the edge of my seat with a constant eye on the mantelpiece!

The story chillingly centres around the Ten Little Soldier Boys rhyme and involves ten individuals arriving at a grand house on a remote island in Devon. Aside from the servants (who are married), none of the ten are related to one another or have prior knowledge of one another, or do they? The upshot is that there’s a murderer on the island who knows a piece of information about each one and he’s got a plan. A plan which includes the demise of each soldier figurine as the death toll rises.

In my opinion, it’s one of Christie’s most translatable stories as I have read the book, seen a few television adaptations and now I’ve seen it on stage – none of the mystery, intrigue or tension is lost at any point in any of the versions I’ve encountered. Its testament to Director, Robert Marsden and his cast that this production has lived up to that expectation, though.

There’s a set which lends itself to the comings and going of a fast-paced whodunit and also represents the grandeur of the building to which each ‘soldier’ has been summoned. The lighting provides an eerie tension in itself and the scene transitions are minimal yet seamless.

The cast boasts an impressive ensemble of actors at the top of their game; John Highton has one wondering if it was the butler whodunit with a bizarre air of mystery surrounding him as Thomas Rogers. Deborah Cornock (who impressed me as the murderer in The Hollow) played a timid yet assertive Ethel Rogers. Ashley Andrew was perfectly cast as Vera Claythorne, elegant, occasionally allowing fear to seep through while appearing far too calm considering the circumstances. Chris Wollaton cut a dashing figure as Philip Lombard, flirtatious and flippant, while in contrast, Patricia Jones was quiet, considered and disapproving as Emily Brent. Steve McTigue put in an excellent performance as the troubled General MacKenzie, equally James King was an ideal choice for the short-lived role of Anthony Marston – far too jolly and a speed demon. David Bowen captivated me as William Blore, his energy and verve were spot on and he drew my attention throughout, as did Ray Johnson as Justice Wargrave – a commanding presence indeed. A special mention must go to our Break A Leg Awards nominee Nigel Peever who played Dr Arnstrong. Peever was undoubtedly one of the stars of The Hollow, for me personally and his performance still resonates. However, as Dr Armstrong I felt that he was an even better fit (if that’s possible!) he underplayed his part and brought the character to the fore only when it was necessary.

Five stars for a piece which has become one of the highlights of my theatre critiquing year! Well done United National Theatre Productions Ltd, you’re putting Stoke on the map as a producer of amazing theatre.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Spotlight On… Susan Penhaligon

April’s Spotlight On……

***Susan Penhaligon***

images

Hi Susan, you’re currently touring with Agatha Christie play ‘And Then There Were None’, how’s the tour going and tell us about your character, Emily Brent.
Emily Brent is a religious spinster who obviously has a past she doesn’t wish to talk about! It’s a cameo character role which I like playing.  It’s great to reach my age and I can leave the younger me behind, where I’m offered these kind of roles, a part where I can put a wig on and become unrecognisable. For me, this is what acting is all about.
Are you an Agatha Christie ‘fan’ and what do you think of this story in particular?
I am an Agatha Christie fan and I think ‘And Then There Were None’ Is is one of her best plays.
Have you a favourite theatre on the tour, and what’s the reason for your choice?
The Theatre Royal Bath is my favourite theatre.  It’s like playing to a big armchair which the audience is sitting in.
So, you’re a boat dweller, what triggered your love of boat dwelling?
I love the water, and it’s a great way to live in a large city like London, it’s the countryside in the city.
You’ve enjoyed a successful career on stage and screen, to date, but which medium do you prefer and why?
You have to be able to do all the mediums, stage, screen, TV, radio, it’s the only way to survive in the industry. I don’t have a favourite, I’m just lucky to be still working.
Is there a character that you have a burning ambition to play?
I like new writing, new plays, so any character within my age range would be my hope for the future. Having said that, Gertrude in Hamlet, any Chekov play, I love Chekov. Oh and of course, a part in Poldark 2.
If you hadn’t have embarked upon an acting career, which job could you see yourself doing?
I think I would have been a writer, or a journalist.
Favourite Things (quick fire questions):
Favourite poem?
I love Dylan Thomas, any of them.
Favourite playwright?
There are so many playwrights I admire, I can’t choose one, I’m sorry.
Favourite area of Cornwall?
My favourite part of Cornwall is the West Penwith area, St Ives to Lands End, the winding road that goes past Zennor to St Just. In the winter its magical, it’s brooding, old Cornwall, full of myths of Giants and Piskies and crumbling tin mine shafts with the ghosts of the ‘knockers’. My soul belongs in Kernow.
Favourite tipple?
Vodka and Slimline. Every time.
Favourite way of spending a Sunday?
Sunday lunch with my son cooked by me, a lounge on the deck of my boat in the sun, watching the river traffic pass by, my dog beside me, until the amazing sunset happens over West London, then watch a movie. Perfect.
Tour information for ‘And Then There Were None’ together with booking details, can be found by following the link below.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: