Skip to main content

And Then There Were None

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
3 stars
How would Agatha Christie have fared in the DNA age? Not, one suspects, very well. Which is why, despite much of her canon crying out for some post-modern deconstruction, her work is protected in a manner only Samuel Beckett has inspired. The reinstatement of a downbeat ending worthy of Sarah Kane in this starry production by director Joe Harmston’s Agatha Christie Company, then, is an eyebrow-raisingly welcome piece of revisionism. This despite the airbrushing out of the original, politically incorrect title of the novel from which Christie adapted her stage version.

Eight archetypes land on an obscure Devon island in a house whose deco wood panelling and giant porthole front entrance suggests a plush prototype for Butlin’s. With the butler and his missus completing the set of crusty old buffers and bright young things from the professional classes, each party is forced to face up to past misdemeanours before being poetically dispatched.

Trouble is, beyond Christie’s quietly fanatical fan-base, even a novice will spot that the more TV friendly the cast, the less likely they are to come a cropper. So you just know that Gerald Harper’s judge, Alex Ferns’s hammy soldier and a fragrant Chloe Newsome are going to make it more or less to the curtain call.

The programme notes evoke everything from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Huis Clois to Big Brother as the offspring of And Then There Were None, and the storm that opens Act Two does suggest Nietzschian epiphanies are imminent. It’s Christie’s merciless exposure of the guilt that lies beyond the veneer of respectability, however, that causes you rub your hands with glee at her characters fate.

The Herald, June 25th 2008

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …

High Society

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

The stage looks gift-wrapped with a sparklingly expensive bow at the opening of John Durnin's revival of Arthur Kopit's Cole Porter based musical that reinvigorates the starry 1956 film where it originated. With the film itself drawing from Philip Barry's play, The Philadelphia Story, Kopit and Porter's depiction of the Long Island jet set says much about over-privileged party people, but retains a fizz that keeps it going till all passion is seemingly spent.
The action is based around the forthcoming nuptials of drop-dead gorgeous society gal and serial bride, Tracy Lord. With her daddy having run off with a show-girl, and ex beau next door CK Dexter Haven set sail for other shores, Tracy settles for George, a stinking rich would-be president for whom stupidity, as someone observes, sits on his shoulders like a crown. Enter Tracy's match-making kid sister Dinah and a pair of reporters for a trashy scandal sheet looking to stit…