"And Then There Were None" at the Yvonne Arnaud - Review By Ivy Ivanova

WARNING: This article contains spoilers.

I read “And Then There Were None”, Agatha Christie’s best-selling mystery novel, back in 2021 and I really enjoyed it. Like all of her novels I have read so far, it was full of suspense, and it had a plot so interesting that it kept me up all night. So, naturally, when I heard that the Yvonne Arnaud theatre was showing a new adaptation of the book, I knew I had to pay it a visit.

The thing about “And Then There Were None” is that there is a pretty large cast - ten people, each equally important for the plot. As someone who struggles remembering people’s names and faces, I was quite worried before I got to the theatre because I wasn’t sure if I could keep track of which character is which, and who has done what. Luckily, the way the play was set up helped with that - the characters were introduced and re-introduced in the beginning in a seamless way which meant that we could all remember who is who, and start trying to figure out who the murderer is. Besides, the actors themselves had done an outstanding job giving their own spin to each character and helping us further distinguish them from one another.

Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

With murder mysteries, setting up the scene is key. You want to give your audience enough information so that they can play detectives alongside the characters and try to solve the mystery on their own. I think that the way the play was set up, especially in the beginning, worked out very well for the production - enough details were given without the audience being overwhelmed. Additionally, and I can’t really believe that I am saying this because I was not expecting it, but the conversations between the characters were quite funny. The dialogues were very snappy and entertaining, which helped further set up the scene while also helping us discern each character.

Something which I particularly loved about the play was how some bits of the story, particularly the characters’ backstories and flashbacks, were told through very little dialogue and lots of visuals, playing with the lights and the props on stage. As someone who understands concepts better through their visualisation, focusing more on showing what has happened instead of simply having a character say what has happened, helped me to better immerse myself into the experience and into their world (although, don’t get me wrong, I would have hated to be one of the ten people stuck on that island).

I found that to be a very cool metaphor showcasing that death is the only way for the characters to walk off the island.

And now, while I am hoping that I won’t sound like a psychopath for saying this, I think it’s time to stop beating around the bush and talk about the most important part of this play - the murders. I think that all the deaths we got to see on stage were acted out in what I can only describe as terrifyingly good - quite a lot of them gave me goosebumps, and there was even one where I had to really look at the stage and make sure that I had not actually just witnessed a murder. I also found it quite clever that for the murders that happened on stage, instead of dimming the lights so that the actors playing dead characters could leave the stage without being noticed, they - or rather their souls - had a moment of standing up and walking off the stage. I found that to be a very cool metaphor showcasing that death is the only way for the characters to walk off the island.

Even though I had read the novel, I didn’t exactly remember the murderer or what their motif was, which was quite fortunate because I got to, in a way, revisit the experience for the first time again. And I know what you are going to ask me - “Did you figure out who the murderer was before it got revealed?”. The answer is yes, but also no. I think experiencing a whodunnit this way instead of reading the book was very cool because not only did I have all of the information I had been provided with throughout the play, but I could also look at the characters and see if they were presenting any visual cues that would help me solve the mystery. I didn’t solve the mystery - I could have never guessed the reasoning behind what was happening on the island, and I couldn’t have thought of the plot twist. But, I did notice that a certain character had a slightly different stage presence than the rest of the cast, which made me suspicious. And while I didn’t have any reasoning behind believing that they are the murderer, I was very happy to find out that my suspicion was correct. So, yes, I did find out who the murderer was, but I definitely will not make a career out of being a detective.

David Yelland as Judge Wargrave | Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

Last semester, I wrote an assignment about how going to the theatre might be intimidating sometimes because people perceive it as an upper-class activity and that makes them feel like they don’t belong there. I am here to bust this myth for you - during the intermission, I got to chat with the lovely lady sitting next to me, and I found out that she was very excited to see so many young people in the theatre; so many people from different backgrounds. Her words are a wonderful reminder that nothing should stop you from doing things you love - so get yourself out there, see a play, chat to people, and have fun!

I am very grateful that I got to go and see “And Then There Were None”, it was truly a wonderful way to spend my Tuesday evening. I will wholeheartedly recommend you to go and see it - the production will be in the Yvonne Arnaud until this Sunday 20 January and you can get your tickets from their website. And if you can’t make it to “And Then There Were None”, maybe consider watching another production - our recommendation here will be the award-winning West-End sensation Bonnie & Clyde, which you can get a discount for using our code BONNIE15. Happy theatre-going!