Theatre Information

Chamberlayne Actors Theatre And Then There Were None

By • Mar 25th, 2013 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
And Then There Were None
Chamberlayne Actors Theatre: (Info) (Web)
CAT Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through April 7th
2:15 with two intermissions
$18/$16 Students
Reviewed March 24th, 2013

Most theater goers know what to expect when they see an Agatha Christie play. You will get a cast of characters where everyone is a suspect and everyone points the finger at each other until the murderer is finally revealed.

To watch a production is kind of like eating chocolate or any other favorite comfort food — satisfying but predictable. Such is the case with CAT Theatre’s production of And Then There Were None.

For those who do not know the story, a group of ten strangers are invited or hired for a weekend on Soldier Island, which is isolated about a mile off the Devon coast of England. Each accepts a vague invitation from a host they do not know. The group of guests/suspects includes a doctor, a secretary, a soldier of fortune, a rich playboy, a retired policeman, a judge, a spinster, a retired general, and a married couple who are the servants. Their mysterious hosts are not there when they arrive, but there are ten soldier statues on a mantle along with a poem, counting down as the soldiers die. Of course, one by one, the soldiers disappear as one by one the guests are murdered until there are…

Director H. Lynn Smith keeps the dialogue moving well, but the action does get a bit stagnant, as the ten actors mostly sit or stand on the rather small stage; especially since Set Designer Eric Kinder has created a very elaborate and ornate English parlor, with the required multiple entrances and exits to make a Christie piece work. The actors each carry off their characters with a variety of accents with a variety of success. For instance, Dan Summey and Rebekah Spence (as the servants Mr. and Mrs. Rogers) seem to fluctuate between Cockney and proper English.

Other actors just don’t seem to exactly fit the character for which they were cast. Scott Bergman as Anthony Marston is more buffoonish, bratty and annoying than playboyish. Still, his over the top energy and facial expressions add a nice touch of humor. Dan Gerstenlauer seemed too young and strong to be the elderly, rambling General MacKenzie, and Mjya Thibault came across as more lecherous than romantic opposite Donna Marie Miller as the young secretary Vera Claybourne. (As I have said in reviewing Fox on the Fairway at CAT — Miller still reminds me of a young Madeline Kahn in her days as the ingenue in several Mel Brooks movies.)

Miller, Mollie Ort (Dr. Armstrong) and Laurie Follmer (who exuded a touch of Linda Hunt on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” with her short dark hair and big glasses) gave some of the stronger, more consistent performances. Ort and Follmer are especially deliciously evil and dark.

Along with Follmer’s costume, Becki Jones provided period appropriate costumes for the performers. The mostly dark and bland colors added to the suspense and darkness behind each character’s back story.

The most innovative touch was lighting designer Alan Armstrong’s choice to light an entire scene with just three small candles. It added an air of suspense and darkness, especially with the creation of shadows. However, it could have used one more candle upstage center, where one of the characters was left almost entirely in the dark. Lightning flashes were also well used and effective.

The biggest flaw for me came with the sound design of Shawn Hambright. There was a constant din of waves crashing and rain falling that sometimes drowned out the dialogue and often became almost like Chinese water torture. Perhaps limiting it to the start of scenes, or when the balcony doors were open would have lessened these distractions.

That aside, Agatha Christie fans will find comfort in viewing CAT Theatre’s production of And Then There Were None.

The Cast

  • Rogers: Dan Summey
  • Mrs. Rogers: Rebekah Spence
  • Fred Narracott: Mike Fletcher
  • Vera Claythorne: Donna Marie Miller
  • Philip Lombard: Mjya Thibault
  • Anthony Marston: Scott Bergman
  • William Blore: Marc Follmer
  • General MacKenzie: Dan Gerstenlauer
  • Emily Brent: Laurie Follmer
  • Sir Lawrence Wargrave: Granville Scott
  • Dr. Armstrong: Mollie Ort

The Crew

  • Producer: Will Vehrs
  • Director: H. Lynn Smith
  • Stage Manager: Pixie E. Curry
  • Set Designer: Eric Kinder
  • Costume Designer: Becki Jones
  • Lighting Designer: Alan Armstrong
  • Sound Designer: Shawn Hambright
  • Marquee: Lin Heath
  • Fight Choreographers: Aaron Orensky and Emily Turner
  • Light Operator: Geoffrey Saur
  • Set Decor: Rose Marie Mitchell
  • Backstage Running Crew: Mike Fletcher and Rebekah Spence
  • Scenic Artist: Megan Hart
  • Set Construction Crew Chief: Ginette Bellefeuille
  • Sound Operator: Andrea Zimmerman
  • Props Master: Amy Berlin
  • Voiceovers: Buddy Bishop and Bob Dutton
  • Photographer: Kinney Thompson
  • House Management and Usher Coordinator: Linda Sue Underwood
  • House Management Team: Shari Adams, Glynis Boyd, Lerita Carter, Janice Jones, Casey Scallion, Celie Seeber, June Spencer
  • Season Show Logos: Tony Turner
  • Poster Artwork: Art Trotter
  • Playbill: Will Vehrs & Tony Turner

Disclaimer: Chamberlayne Actors Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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