BWW Review: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE at Kansas City Actors Theatre At Union Station
"And Then There Were None," by Agatha Christie
Ten strangers are summoned to a mansion on an island off the English coast. Each has past secrets that come to be revealed, one by one, as a sinister plan unfolds. Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" is an allegorical mystery of the human condition that is as current today as it was in 1939, when it was written. Kansas City Actors Theatre's take on the macabre puzzle takes audiences on a bold fast-paced ride with striking, fully fleshed-out characters that each add to the suspense.
The show opens on an iridescent room that is part luxury and part illusion. An opulent chandelier hangs over a bearskin rug surrounded by deco-style furniture while an expanse of windows shows a shifting ocean under a cloud-softened sky. Indirect lighting provides a muted ambience that heightens the mysterious feel of the space. On the fireplace stand 10 sculpted figures above a plaque inscribed with the rhyme of the 10 little soldier boys. One by one, our guests arrive each dressed in soft colors that provide a somewhat monochromatic scene with small deliberate bursts of color as if splashes of blood has appeared on a blank canvas.
Greeted by recently hired butler and cook, the new arrivals learn that their host, one U.N. Owen, has been delayed and will not yet be joining them. In the meantime, they get to eat and drink on the house, yet their contentment is short lived as everyone is shaken by a big booming voice on a recording that accuses all ten guests of committing murders. Shortly thereafter, the plot thickens by what appears to be the suicide of one of the guests. However, early the next morning a second body is discovered leading the group to suspect one of their own is the murderer. As the body count rises it becomes evident that the killer is dispatching the group as the "Soldier's Rhyme" suggests, and indeed the figures on the mantle disappear at the same rate as the guests.
KCAT's cast is made up of a talented ensemble of experienced actors including: Robert Gibby Brand, as a stalwart General MacKenzie: Greg Butell and Bonnie Griffin , as proper yet petulant Mr. & Mrs. Rogers; Kyle Dyck, as debonair yet negligent Anthony Marston; Manon Haliburton as the self-righteous and unremorseful Emily Brent; Matt Rapport as corrupt and blundering William Blore; Peter Zazzali as the successful Dr. Armstrong who is nervously apprehensive; Victor Raider-Wexler as the commandingly intelligent Judge Wargrave; Matt Schwader as the confidently charismatic charmer Philip Lombard; Ellen Kirk as the capable but somewhat superstitious Vera Claythorne; and Scott Cordes as the underappreciated Fred Narracott. The many subtle nuances and finesse by this ensemble provided some really great acting moments. Seeing characters so uniquely developed is a challenging task and this group was stellar.
This superb performance is one that can be appreciated by both amateur and seasoned theatergoers. For folks who tend to avoid theater productions in favor of a quick fix at the movies this show provides the suspenseful pace you will definitely enjoy. For experienced theaterphiles, the production value of this presentation has many small joys as well as the big juicy moments we yearn for.
Directed by John Rensenhouse the show runs August 9-27, 2017, City Stage at Union Station, in Kansas City, MO
Photos courtesy of KCAT