These are the problems that Chorion, the company that owns Christie's rights, and director Steven Pimlott have set out to lick in And Then There Were None. Esteemed dramatist Kevin Elyot has adapted this show from the original 1939 novel, rather than from the later Christie play, which softened the ending with survivors and improbable true love. The result isn't a startling re-invention, but it's a cleverly tweaked piece of work, adding a sheen of glamour, a streak of knowing camp comedy, and a darker edge to the ruthless retributive justice that governs the proceedings.
Ten strangers - Richard Johnson's Judge, Tara Fitzerald's sexy games teacher, Gemma Jones's spinster et al - are lured to an island retreat. Over dinner, they are each accused of having committed murder and then each, in turn, is slaughtered by an unseen maniacal arch-plotter. You know that this isn't your standard Christie outing when the first victim projectile-vomits over a coffee table (a feat whose novelty earned a round of applause from the first-night audience). Nor have we often seen in this neck of the woods a woman stirring from post-coital slumber to a singularly bloody surprise.
If Pimlott screws the tension too predictably with great crashes of thunder, the production adroitly underlines the provocative approach to justice in the piece. All the characters have committed murders that are camouflaged and so beyond the reach of the law (sending a man to his certain death in the trenches; operating while drunk).
It would be unfair to reveal the substance of the climactic sequence but it's a compliment to say that I think that it would have intrigued and impressed a Jacobean revenge dramatist.
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