And Then There Were None – the play of the best-selling crime novel of all time – comes to the Lyceum in Sheffield until Saturday, and it’s truly terrifying.
Eight strangers and two hired staff are invited by a mysterious host to a luxury hotel on an isolated island off Devon – and find themselves eliminated one by one like the ‘ten little soldiers’ of the counting rhyme.
It might be Agatha Christie’s most famous tale – and, with worldwide sales of over 100 million, one of the most adapted, referenced, copied, and parodied premises ever – but in acclaimed director Lucy Bailey’s hands it manages to feel horrifyingly modern, and pitch-perfect period, all at the same time.
Christie wrote the play in 1939 with the shadow of another world war looming. In 2023, with climate change, covid and conflict creating a similar sense of doom and dread, perhaps things aren’t so different today. The unchanging set is a class act in claustrophobia. Sheer curtains swirl as a storm rages, trapping the guests on an island with no boat, no telephone and, before long, no electricity.
The penny starts to drop among all of them: greed, curiosity and vanity brought them here, the eye of God is upon them – and nobody is getting out alive.
There are some familiar faces among the very capable cast. Andrew Lancel, best known as former Corrie villain Frank Foster, plays undercover police officer William Blore. Actor Bob Barrett, Dr Sacha Levy in Holby, is a medic again as hospital surgeon Dr Armstrong. And veteran star of state and screen David Yelland turns in a commanding performance as Judge Wargrave.
But it’s Sophie Walter as Vera Claythorne who really holds the production together. Her character more than any runs the gamut of emotions, as guilty secrets and tormented consciences turn to dark damnation, insanity and judgement, and her shocking final scene will live long in the memory for anyone who bears witness to this show.