This November, Mermaids return to the Byre to debut their production of And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie’s iconic murder-mystery play. With a superb and gripping script, the show is set to provide a night of thrills, dark humour, intrigue and suspense.
Adapted from her own best-selling novel, Christie’s plot follows ten strangers on a remote island, each of whom is accused of a terrible crime. As the play progresses, they are killed off one by one in ways foreshadowed by a chilling nursery rhyme; tensions rise and paranoia spreads as it becomes clear that the killer must lurk among them. Can they figure out who is responsible for the murders before they too meet their unpleasant end?
On chatting with director Rowan Wishart, producer Hanna Lawson and actors Morgan Corby and Olli Gilford, it was immediately clear how passionate and invested the cast and crew have been throughout the process; everyone seems to have gone the extra mile in making this a standout production. With a clear art-deco theme, a cohesive costume journey (especially with regard to colouring) and original music composed by Oli Savage, the play promises to create a brilliant stage picture and atmosphere.
And Then There Were None is the first play that Rowan has directed independently; she started planning for the show in April, and has adapted easily to the freedoms and challenges of solo directing: “though it was daunting at first, I had such a fantastic team behind me and when you’ve got a cast that gets on as well as this one does, it’s a dream to work with them. It’s been wonderful, it’s been so fun.”
You can tell that the cast and crew have really bonded as a unit through making this play- when I first walked into the Union to meet some of them for interview, they could’ve been a group of friends just meeting for a chat. But this production boasts a combination of Mermaids veterans as well as actors for whom And Then There Were None is their first St Andrews play; it’s great to see our uni’s theatre scene bringing students of different ages and levels of experience together. The actors agreed, “We’re all learning from each other, no matter how experienced everyone is.” Rowan explained, “we went in wanting to cast the best actor for the role”, and this combination of talent and a great cast dynamic is sure to make for some impressive performances.
Though the actors have been admittedly “repelled, disgusted and appalled” by their characters, Olli noted how “they’re real, rounded characters; you can understand them even if you don’t like them. What separates these parts is that there’s not much room to move; it’s about finding a character within what you’ve got to work with, and finding a journey on the way that makes sense to a modern audience.”
Morgan agreed, calling the play “a murder-mystery taken to extremes – it’s like being inside theatrical clockwork, making sure every cog fits. With this one I’ve worked backwards: instead of, what does this character think, what does he want, I’ve thought, how would he walk, how would he say this, and started from there – rather than working inwards out, I’ve been working outwards in.”
The mechanical nature of the play makes it a technically demanding piece, and the team have consciously approached issues of onstage deaths and characterization with a modern audience in mind. The journey of the show as a whole is difficult, but it is just this “thrill, the mystery, the puzzle of it” that attracts us to the genre and will make this play a must-see. As Rowan says, “you can’t be passive when watching a murder-mystery” – we’re right there with the characters trying to figure it out. The play demands audience investment; we will inevitably take on that same detective role and become active participants.
Every aspect of this play has been approached with creativity, thought and attention to detail, and with such a united and enthusiastic cast and crew, the energy onstage should make for an incredible night. I’m excited to see this interpretation of And Then There Were None, and particularly to see these different elements brought to life – I have a feeling this show will definitely do Agatha Christie’s play justice.
Fred Narracott – Guy Harvey
Anthony Marston – Coggin Galbreath
Rodgers – Daniel Jonusas
Mrs Rodgers – Alex Duckworth
Vera Claythorne – Eleanor Burke
Philip Lombard – Morgan Corby
William Blore – Christopher McCarthy
General McKenzie – Benjamin Davies
Emily Brent – Clemmie Beresford
Sir Lawrence Wargrave – Olli Gilford
Dr. Armstrong – Caitlin Morris
Director – Rowan Wishart
Producer – Hanna Lawson
Producer – Krisztina Pakozdy
Technical Director – Madison Hauser
Stage Manager – Jackie Ashkin
Assistant Stage Managers – Sebastian Taylor, Catherine Thines
Costuming – Kat Reynders
Publicity – Sasha Mann
Sound Design – Oli Savage
Assistant Director – Anna South
Assistant Technical Director – Sam Schiller
Production Crew – Csilla Pakozdy, Michaela Kostodinova
Set Construction – Caelan Mitchell-Bennett
And Then There Were None: 2nd and 3rd November at the Byre Theatre.