Murder mysteries. Ugh. There is just something about them that makes me groan. Maybe it’s because they are so wordy, and maybe it is because there is always that one character that knows “everything.” When I say everything, I don’t mean they know “everything” but everything pertaining to information about the mystery at hand. Lot’s of exposition, lots of quirky characters, and little care if they find the killer. However, if a murder mystery is done right, the audience should not feel bombarded over the head with the exposition, and should be able to have an enjoyable evening at the theatre. An enjoyable evening at the theatre is just what you get, when you witness Aurora Players’ current production, Agatha Christie’s “An Then There Were None.”
. . .a fun ‘whodunit’ . . .
After ten individuals are each mysteriously invited to a remote island with no communication to the main land, they discover that they are all being indicted on murder charges. The plot thickens when one by one the guests to the island begin to meet unsavory demises. Every time a guest meets their maker, a small solider boy falls off the mantel, until, there are none.
Director Joel Murphy makes his directorial debut at Aurora Players, and it is clear that he will be a staple in the organization very soon, having proven himself in keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, even if they were familiar with Agatha Christie’s story. I was not. And I thoroughly enjoyed his interpretation of this story. Murphy has assembled a cast of actors at different skill levels in his production, and each prove to complement each other and keep the audience engrossed in the content.
With all ensemble shows, the cast needs to work together to make sure that the story is entertaining and that they all work on bringing the best performances out of the others they are acting with. This ensemble does a great job working in tandem. There are a few standouts, starting with Michael Starzynski as Sir Lawrence Wargrave, who possesses the best character arc in the show, and is a powerhouse of manners, and insanity. You will absolutely love watching Starzynski as he tries to make sense of the situation, and as he interrogates the guests in hopes of finding answers.
David Hall as Doctor Armstrong is a wonderful addition to the cast. Hall plays the meek mannered Doctor to a tee, and when he begins to lose it, the audience is captivated. Hall makes great artistic choices, and is an audience favorite.
Les Bailey is the perfect choice for General Mackenzie. Bailey brings a true sense of wisdom to the role and is a joy to watch work.
Paige Ronan as Vera Claythorne and Tony Wizner as Philip Lombard are great choices for the roles, and these two support the other with wonderful stage chemistry. Ronan has the right amount of innocence and Wizner has the right amount of hot-headedness. They pair nicely.
The show is brought to life with David Hall’s set decoration, which is brilliant, and truly is a character of it’s own in the show. Nancy Johnson’s costumes are breathtaking, and truly fit the 1930’s era well.
With all shows, there is room for improvement. I found that it was sometimes difficult to hear the actors on stage, and I was sitting in the second row. Also, and I am sure I will get backlash from this statement, I am not a big fan of accents in shows. It is usually difficult to understand the actors with their accents, for they are busy focusing on the performance of their accent and not on projection. This happens from time to time in this production, but it is easily forgiven for the caliber of this show.
If you are looking for a fun ‘whodunit’, go see this show! You will not be disappointed!
Running Time: 2 Hours 30 minutes including one 15-minute intermission.
Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” runs until March 25, 2018, and is presented at the Roycroft Pavilion in Hamlin Park in East Aurora. For more information, click here.