Wednesday, 18 January 2017

“And Then There Were None” by Bonington Players
Bonington Theatre.
A group of people are lured into coming to an island under different pretexts. All have been involved in the deaths of other human beings, but either escaped justice or committed an act that was not subject to legal sanction.
The guests and two servants who are present are "charged" with their respective "crimes" by a gramophone recording after dinner on their first night, and informed that they have been brought to the island to pay for their actions. They are the only people on the island, and cannot escape due to the distance from the mainland and the inclement weather.
The nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians” describes how the ten little Indians are killed off. Gradually the guests are killed off in turn, each in a manner that seems to parallel the deaths in the nursery rhyme. Nobody else seems to be left alive on the island by the time of the apparent last death, but someone must be responsible for the deaths, but who?
The way I see it is that all you need for engaging theatre is a good script,a good cast and a good technical crew. Simplistic, I know but that is what Bonington Players have. Agatha Christie is one of the finest, in my opinion, thriller writers and they are all so stylised.

Bonington Players have compiled a fine cast for this classic murder mystery.
Vic Roberts (Rogers-the Butler), Anna Hodkin (Mrs Rogers, his wife and cook), Tony Tatton (Fred Narracott-the boatman), Helen Holbrook (Vera Claythorne-a young woman and object of a couple of the guests' attentions), Kevin Chatten (Phillip Lombard-the wise cracking revolver toting soldier of fortune), Neil Holbrook (Anthony Marston-the hooray henry lover of fast cars), Eddie Janusczcyk (William Blore-a former police officer), Mike Baker (General Mackenzie who thought he kept seeing his late wife, Leslie and seems to be slowly losing his mind), Julia Walters (Emily Brent-an acidic old woman), Tony Tomlinson (Sir Lawrence Wargrave known as "The Hanging Judge") and Wayne Hill (Dr Armstrong- a Harley Street doctor). A brilliant cast who were completely engaging. It's be so difficult for me to highlight just one of these actors because they were all so very good.
Stylishly directed by Tony Tatton and a wonderful set designed by Howard Whitehurst, giving the outdoor scenery a depth I can't remember seeing in any other productions I've seen of this play.A simple but effective and apt set dressing by Linda Whitehurst.
The soundscape was realistic, and a again I know this may sound obvious but when the doors to the outside were opened you could hear the outside sound and when they closed the riming was perfect. This may seem like a given but this doesn't always work as it should. Designed by David Goatham, along with the lighting design, these two skipped merrily and jauntily hand in hand in wonderful unison.
Part of the style of Christie's plays are the wonderful clothes of the period and Gail Tomlinson did the play proud with the costumes.
There may have been a few stumbles over the odd line but they were well recovered by the actors who helped hide these as well as they could. It's first night, there'll always be nerves no matter how experienced an actor you are but the secret is recovery. i got the feeling that quite a few of the almost full theatre at Bonington may not have seen the play before from their reactions, so they's be none the wiser.
Any stumblings were glossed over because the way every actor threw themselves into the marvellous characters they were playing. the script is classic and this cast brought the lines to life, resulting in several of the audience members teetering on the seat edges for the finale.
This is without doubt a wonderfully entertaining piece of theatre, made all the better by a talented cast and technical crew and is well worth seeing this week.
"And Then There Were None" by The Boninton Players is being performed at Bonington Theatre in Arnold until Saturday 21 January. Don't hang around though because you may wait for later in the week to get a ticket and then there were none left!

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