Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Counting by corpses

cast of And Then There Were None

Guests pause before dinner as they discover the best dressed corpse in the place

And Then There Were None

The Grange Players

Grange Playhouse, Walsall


NO matter how many times you see this classic Agatha Christie multi-murder thriller it never fails to entertain, whether performed on the professional stage or, as here, by a quality amateur company.

Yes, it’s tongue-in-cheek at times – chuckles break out in the audience after one killing – but the play is so cleverly constructed the identity of the culprit remains in doubt until the final scene.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Queen of Crime’s birth, and the Grange Players are paying an impressive tribute with this excellent production.

It is well acted by a strong cast, helped by the fact that they are performing on a particularly good set, representing the living room of a mansion overlooking the sea on the remote Soldier Island, off the coast of Devon.

The set was designed by Tony Groves and the play’s director, Rachel Waters, and constructed by Matthew Garratt, John Hine, Robert Onions and Chris Waters, and includes a balcony overlooking the blue sea and sky with realistic white clouds . . . plus a large fireplace with mantelpiece on which stand ten toy soldiers.

Above them is a large copy of the children’s nursery rhyme, Ten Little Soldier Boys, ending ‘and then there were none’ and when eight mysteriously invited strangers arrive at the home, plus two servants, the scene is set forand then there were none cast murders, with the soldiers disappearing, one by one in time with sudden death.

A recorded voice accuses all ten of having guilty secrets, and there is a convincing performance from Andy Jones as one of the guests, Sir Lawrence Wargrave, who happens to be a judge and tries to get to the bottom of the mysterious threat.

Fear stalks Soldier Island as the toy soldiers, and guests, fall one by one

As the story unfolds the finger of suspicion points to virtually everyone in the group, even ‘respectable’ Dr Armstrong (Christopher Waters), but surely not elderly Emily Brent, played with remarkable confidence by Mary Whitehouse who took on the role only a fortnight before opening night. She is knitting almost non-stop during the action, and should have a nice scarf by the time the run ends!

Suzy Donnelly adds a touch of glamour to proceedings as Vera Claythorne who catches the eye of gun-toting army officer Captain Philip Lombard played with a convincing military style by the always smartly dressed Adam Woodward.

Having said that, all six male guests are impeccably turned out in their tuxedos in the scene when they are dressed for dinner.

Remarkably Agatha Christie doesn’t seem to create too much anxiety at first among the group in her most popular best-selling thriller as murder follows murder in a variety of ways, but the audience are probably too involved trying to decide who the killer could be to worry about that.

The confident cast is completed by David Stone (General Mackenzie), Aarron Armstrong-Craddock (Anthony Marston), Robert Onions (William Blore), Les Wilkes and Jill Simkin (the servants, Mr and Mrs Rogers) and Martin Groves (Fred Narracott).

A powerful thunderstorm is particularly well staged, with lightning flashing across the sea, and it was good to spot that when two of the ‘guests’ rush indoors from the balcony, their coats are clearly soaking wet.

The classic play, produced by Christopher Waters and Grant Thomson, runs to 23.05.15

Paul Marston


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