They don’t do musicals and they don’t do pantomimes, so it’s no surprise at this time of year that no-one in the audience is required to shout “He’s behind you.”
It might have been the answer though, for the Agatha Christie murder mystery that’s on stage until 13th December.
The opening night was a bit sticky, as director Colin Hayman was catapulted into the role of the butler when the original actor had to withdraw, and his unfamiliarity with the lines was at times infectious.
Colin joined Frea Nunn and Kevin Murdoch to design a wonderfully Art Deco set, and the whole thing started with a cinematic flickering countdown.
Christie’s play is set on Burgh Island off the Devon Coast, where ten people turn up for a weekend house party – eight guests and a husband and wife butler and cook.
It soon becomes clear that not only are they cut off from the mainland by a treacherous sea, but there is no telephone installed.
When they hear that their “hosts” won’t be turning up until the next day, the judge, the playboy, the general, the doctor, the secretary, the prissy spinster, the mercenary and the South African millionaire start exchanging fragments of their stories – and all discover that they don’t actually KNOW who has invited them. Even the domestic staff were engaged by letter via an agency.
What IS going on?
Of course, being a Christie classic, death is lurking behind the stylish sofas, and before long the body count is rising.
A clever lighting design as well as an expansive use of the acting area all helps with the mounting atmosphere of uncertainty, as the possible perpetrator is narrowed down.
There were fine performances from Natasha George as secretary Vera and James Bradwell as Lombard, some welcome comic moments from the sonorous Anthony von Roretz, a nice double act from George Goulding and a chilling litany from Val Greathead as Emily Brent.
The way to do Christie is absolutely in period, and Colin Hayman and his cast carried it off with aplomb.
There are no performances on Sunday or Monday 8th December.