Review: And Then There Were None, Mayflower Theatre

Review: And Then There Were None, Mayflower Theatre

By Martin Brisland. Image: Manuel Harlan.

With a Mayflower programme full of musicals, concerts, opera and ballet it is refreshing to see a classic ‘whodunnit’ play with an intricate plot delivered by a company of excellent actors.

Agatha Christie is the undisputed Queen of Crime and the creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Her And Then There Were None is the best-selling crime novel of all time with over 100 million copies sold since 1939 and has even been parodied in an episode of Family Guy called And Then There Were Fewer.

She is the most widely published author ever with a billion copies sold in English and another billion in other languages. Reinvented for the 21st century, this dark tale keeps the audience on the edge of their seats as each of the murders unfolds.

This captivating reinterpretation, directed by Lucy Bailey, has been on the road since early September 2023, ending its run this week at Southampton’s 2,271 seat Mayflower Theatre.

Written in 1939, this tale of isolation, murder and suspicion begins with the characters receiving an invitation to Soldier Island by a Mr and Mrs Owen. Adding to the sense of unease even before the play begins, the audience is greeted a huge bear skin rug, lit by an eerie glow, placed in the middle of a sitting room.

The guests assemble on the Devon island and are greeted by a butler and a cook and not by Mr or Mrs Owen who has been ‘detained’ in London. The use of this word puts intrigue and questions in the mind of the audience from the very first scene.

It soon becomes clear that the invitation is not quite what it seems, and the guests quickly become confused and disorientated. Why are they trapped on this claustrophobic island with no way to escape?

The missing hosts have provided written instructions, to listen to a gramophone record, which accuses every character in turn of awful crimes. They are isolated with no phone or a boat to carry them back to the mainland, leaving the party understandably on edge. You really don’t want to be on the guest list at Soldier Island where ten people tear each other apart.

After finding a sinister nursery rhyme hung on the wall of each bedroom, matching the dining table’s centrepiece of ten glass soldiers, things get decidedly spooky.
The company works together seamlessly, sowing confusion and doubt for the audience.

The acting is faultless. Joseph Beattie (Philip Lombard) and Jeffery Kissoon (General MacKenzie) are both excellent. Bob Barrett’s Doctor Armstrong is a bag of nerves, contrasting with the unflappable Judge Wargrave, played by David Yelland.

One departure from the novel is the inclusion of a fantasy dance segment which did not seem to add to the core mystery of the play. The play’s climax is a powerful and disturbing scene that will shock you.

Curious to find out ‘whodunnit’? Tickets are available from or 02380 711811.

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