The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title And Then There Were None
Organization Sutter Street Theatre
Date(s) of show November 8-30, 2014
Reviewer Gerry Camp

Murder mysteries by Agatha Christie are often like jigsaw puzzles to be solved with a number of pieces to be put into place before the picture can be revealed. This format is realized to perfection in Sutter Street Theatre’s current production of And Then There Were None.

As the play begins we see the drawing room of a magnificent mansion on an island. Two servants, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers (Ken Watkins and Kate Muris) are awaiting guests for a weekend holiday. They have been hired only a week before and have never met their employer, who, it seems, won’t arrive until the next day.

The eight guests at this event arrive one by one, and we soon learn they have never met and are quite uncertain about the purpose of the engagement. After the guests have assembled in the drawing room they hear a strange recording accusing each of causing the death of someone in the past for which act none has been punished. A poem framed over the mantelpiece details the deaths of “ten little soldier boys” who died, one by one, until “there were none.” The punishment of the guests, following the clues in the poem, is apparently the reason for the gathering, and the deaths begin immediately when Marston (Ryan Taylor), a self-absorbed car enthusiast, keels over, apparently poisoned.

Retired Judge Wargrave (Stephen Kauffman) and detective Blore (Mark Joyner) take charge, convincing the others that the killer must be one of them as there is no one else on the island. Their proposals are challenged by Lombard (Aaron Horne), a dashing young adventurer who begins to flirt with Vera (Amy Willliams), the secretary to the host’s wife, whom she also has never met.

The guests retire for the night, and Mrs. Rogers, the maid, dies in her sleep. Her husband tries to carry on as the perfect butler until he is murdered with an ax while cutting firewood.  Mackenzie (a dottie Jon Beaver), a retired general with a guilty conscience, is sure he is next, and goes out for a walk from which he never returns.

In short order, Emily Brent, an elderly viciously religious moralist (Hazel Johnson) is poisoned in the midst of the company, her slumped-over corpse amusingly unnoticed by the others who walk around her discussing the situation. Blor dies when a heavy statue is dropped on his head.  Judge Wargrave is soon shot and the nervous Doctor Armstrong (Mark Ludwig) goes over a cliff and drowns. The only two apparently alive at this point are the seemingly most innocent lovers, Vera and Lombard. This being an Agatha Christie story, however, the surprises have not ended.

It is perhaps not fair to single out individual performances from a perfectly cast ensemble of actors, each of whom personifies his or her character convincingly. I can’t resist mentioning my favorite, however, the self-righteous Emily Brent, who had caused the suicide of a sixteen-year-old girl.  Hazel Johnson made me believe fully in this vile woman.

The play, under the direction of Janelle Kauffman, moves suspensefully from one murder to another, and the ending, for those unfamiliar with the story, is sure to shock and surprise. Lovers of mysteries, lovers of puzzles, lovers of entertaining theatre will have a delightful evening at Sutter Street’s And Then There Were None.

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