“SELF-PRESERVATION IS A MAN’S FIRST DUTY”
Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None," now playing in a dastardly delicious new production at Drury Lane Theatre, is a story of accountability and revenge. The despicable scoundrels who gather in an estate on a remote island off the coast of Devon, England, receive comeuppance for their crimes at the hands of a ruthlessly diabolical killer operating in plain view. For mature murder-mystery fans, this is as good as it gets!
Director Jessica Fisch has assembled a top-flight company whose richly-defined characters engage at a blistering pace—the first act flies by in the bat of an eye—exposing just enough of the clever dramatic turns along the way to keep you rapt in suspense with each successive offing.
In her superb program notes, Fisch celebrates the breadth of Christie's seminal work—written in 1939 with the stage adaptation following in 1943—acknowledging "the complexity of directing a work that carries the burden of not one, but two, racist and insensitive previous titles," and the challenges dealing with a play’s “problematic history.” Further, the program includes the published version of “Ten Little Soldier Boys,” which is inescapably essential to the unfolding of the tale and the unraveling of the plot.
In addition to these finer points to consider as you settle into your seat, you might be curious about who these soldier boys (here, China figurines) are and how they figure into what you are about to experience: an old-fashioned murder mystery—universally accepted as the first of its kind—written in a distinctive style that has been wildly imitated but rarely equaled. Fisch’s intriguing production reflects a fresh approach, earnest in its goals to illuminate both how things were and how far we have come while challenging us to ask: What can we learn about ourselves in this moment? How does art evolve over time and influence our understanding of the past? And, How can we be more acutely aware of our daily interactions and the profound impressions we have on each other?
Heady stuff for an 80-year-old novel that sold 100 million copies, as well as a play that premiered in a social climate smothered in a second world war where people yearned to escape to a place where corrupt characters get what they deserve. If you think you know whodunit, in a delightful twist, Christie altered the book’s ending, which amplifies an observation by one of the characters early on—“Self-preservation is man’s first duty”—which, these days, applies to everyone in the room.
It all unfolds on the expansive, richly appointed Andrew Boyce interior—a symmetrical, bi-level seaside villa that looks out over the changing nature of the expansive Soldier Island coastline— enhanced by Driscoll Otto’s lighting and projections and Ray Nardelli’s mood-inducing sound design. Costume Designer Jessica Pabst’s distinctive designs, Claire Moores’s wig and hair design, and a never-ending flow of booze and china figurines courtesy of props whiz Cassy Schillo, complete the picture-perfect setting of a seaside locale where the guests keep dropping left and right.
Drury Lane Theatre
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE
through September 1
100 DRURY LANE
OAKBROOK TERRACE, IL