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And Then There Were None - hailed as the best-selling crime novel of all time - is one of Agatha Christie’s classics. This production, directed by Lucy Bailey, has been on the road since September 2023, now playing at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre.

The story begins with a group of ten strangers summoned to an island off the English coast, at the request of ‘Mr Owen’ and his wife. The hosts are mysteriously absent, but have provided written instructions, once everyone is assembled, to listen to a gramophone record, which accuses every character in turn of terrible crimes. There’s no phone, nor a boat to carry them back to the mainland, leaving the party understandably on edge.

Before the play begins, the audience is greeted with the glare of a predator: a huge bear skin rug, lit by an eerie glow, placed in the middle of an otherwise innocuous sitting room. Perhaps this adds to the unease of the characters, who begin to suspect that they are being watched. After finding a sinister nursery rhyme hung on the wall of each bedroom, matching the dining table’s centrepiece of ten glass soldiers, things begin to get decidedly spooky.

Agatha Christie adapted the novel herself in 1943, but even for audience members who have seen her version, there might be a few darker twists and turns - this adaptation more closely follows the plot of the book. The staging works nicely, with a gauze curtain that obscures figures from view. The sound and lighting conjure up the nearby ocean, reinforcing the idea that the characters have no means of escape.

The company works together seamlessly, sowing confusion and doubt for the audience. Joseph Beattie (playing Philip Lombard) and Jeffery Kissoon (General MacKenzie) are both ex-military men who are thinly suppressing guilt from their service days. Bob Barrett’s Doctor Armstrong is a bag of nerves, contrasting with the unflappable Judge Wargrave, played by David Yelland.

All the characters have something to hide, and deftly reveal nasty aspects of their personality in moments of high tension - even Vera Claythorne (played by Sophie Walter), who at first appears to be the only steady personality in the pack. The theatrically righteous Emily Brent (Katy Stephens), brash Anthony Marston (Oliver Clayton) and heavy-handed William Blore (Andrew Lancel) all provide moments of comedy, which lightens the stormy mood.

The plot is well-regarded for a reason. And Then There Were None is a must for fans of a good whodunnit - especially those who have not yet encountered the Queen of Crime’s best-seller.

Four Stars

Reviewed by Jessica Clixby at The Alexandra, Birmingham on Tuesday 5 March. And Then There Were None continues to show at the venue until Saturday 9 March.