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reviewed by Vickie Cornelius Phipps

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is a detective fiction novel, first published in the United Kingdom in 1939. It is Christie’s best-selling novel to date, making it the world’s best-selling mystery and the seventh most popular book of all time. One of her darkest and most successful novels, it was adapted into a play in 1943.

And Then There Were None takes place in 1938 when ten people have been summoned to Soldier island off the Devon coast for an island getaway. Their hosts, the mysterious Mr. and Mrs. Owens, are oddly not there to greet them. Instead the butler and his wife, the cook, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers (Matt Anderson and Christy Walker) are there to show them to their rooms. The group of strangers meet at dinner and each has no idea why they have been invited. Stranded without a phone or boat, the characters learn that one of them is methodically murdering the members of the group. Who? Why? How? The clues are in the nursery rhyme. “Ten little soldier boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little soldier boys…” A jazz record playing in the background switches to a human voice which accuses each of the guests of having contributed to the death or deaths of someone from their pasts. At the end of dinner, one of the guests, Anthony Marston (Bradford Reilly) chokes and drops down dead. And so it begins.

Steve Joshua Ramsey

Detective Albert Blore (Steve Kruze) and Captain Lombard (Joshua Ramsey) in a scene from Civic Theatre’s “And Then There Were None”.

There is an interesting range of guests: the ex-nanny and child killer, Vera Claythorne (Carrie A. Schlatter), the highly successful physician, Dr. Edward George Armstrong (David Wood), Detective Albert Blore (Steve Kruze), the bitter bible fanatic, Emily Brent, (Christine Kruze), the retired General Macarthur (Tom Beeler), the Judge (David Mosedale), and a soldier from the colonies, Captain Lombard (Joshua Ramsey). The guests are ferried over to the island by the sea chaffier Fred Narracott (Dick Davis).

Beeler Schlatter

General Macarthur (Tom Beeler) and Vera Claythorne (Carrie A. Schlatter) in a scene from Civic Theatre’s “And Then There Were None”.

The actors give a strong performance that anchors the story. My stand out choice was Steve Kruze. “Davis, the name is Davis.” But I love the comic relief.

This is Civic’s second production at the Studio and was staged perfectly under the direction of Charles Goad. The well-balanced cast, using a variety of accents held the attention of the audience. I could hear the whispers of many trying to guess what will happen next. Agatha Christie packed this script with details and nuance, one of which are the ten little soldier boys mysteriously disappearing from the mantle as each character is picked off.

Ryan Koharchik set design was simple and elegant with the right amount of detail. Costume designer Adrienne Conces dresses the cast from my favorite era, late 1930’s to 1940’s. Wowed by Christine Kruse’s costumes and hair design, I wasn’t thrilled with Schlatter’s – and while I’m sure she was following the script, I’m not sure someone would change attire so often if they were worried about being murdered. The sounds of the sea and dramatic lighting set the mood for this terrific “whodunit” mystery but the annoying LED lights on the side of the risers in the audience at times distracted me. Probably a safety issue but I wish they were at floor level or dimmed during performances. Lastly, and I know this is very picky, the suitcases seem a little light when the actors handle them. All in all, though, this is a must-see production that can be enjoyed with the whole family.

Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of And Then There Were None runs March 23 – April 8. For tickets call 317-853-6311 or go online http://www.civictheatre.org.

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