And Then There were None. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Jeffrey Kissoon and Sophie Walter. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Proper theatre! It’s not often that one feels able to sum up and evening in the theatre in just two words, and of course there were a few moments in this brilliant reworking of an Agatha Christie classic that fell slightly short, but overall this intelligent piece is masterful.

Director Lucy Bailey has taken the bones of Christie’s best selling novel, I believe the best selling novel of all time, and breathed new life, or should that be death, into it. Christie’s work is brilliant, superb plotting, excellent character portrayal and development, but too many stagings have resorted to camp pastiche of period genres, clipped tones and manners, overly played costuming and unimaginative staging. None of this for Bailey.

Working with designer Mike Britton the staging of this is so simple and yet so clever, costumes understated, a box set that with the simple device of a billowing gauze curtain shifts the action from space to space seamlessly, it works so so well.

The cast are uniformly good too, and with a cast of ten too many to name all and too wrong to single out just a few. Their characters are so well drawn, minor changes from the original work well in bringing this peice bang up to date without shifting its position in time.

Director and cast build the tension on Soldier Island to a such a pitch that the audience, a full house, are silent, no whispering, no embarrassed laughter, just a sense of impending doom.

The aforementioned moments that fell short, some lighting black spots and a prop, essential we later find, something of a trip hazard, pale into insignificance when looking back.

I’ve read the book, I’ve seen it staged a few times, but never as well as this. In coming to it with a fresh approach Lucy Bailey and her company gave me a totally satisfying evening of proper theatre. What a great start to a new year for TRB!

Andrew Kay

Theatre Royal Brighton

9 January


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