BWW Review: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE knocks 'em dead at The Arts Center Of Cannon County

BWW Review: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE knocks 'em dead at The Arts Center Of Cannon County

Ten strangers are assembled to Indian Island as the guests of the mysterious U.N Owen (or "unknown") in Agatha Christie's legendary classic, And Then There Were None. However, as the initial dinner party is interrupted by the prerecorded voice of the group's absent host accusing each individual of murder, things take a dangerous turn. One unidentified guest among the ten (and then there were nine, and then there were eight, and then... well you know how it goes) begins to off his or her cohabitants one by one through the dark nursery rhyme which becomes a maddening and suspenseful sort of prophesy of impending doom to the terrorized group.

Now playing at The Arts Center of Cannon County through October 13, the Cyndie Verbeten-directed production and her team of deeply skilled artists have assembled a production that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, constantly questioning each potential mastermind, and leaves theater-goers begging to know who is responsible for the shocking deaths at hand.

The stunning set, designed by Brittany Goodwin and Cyndie Verbeten welcomes audiences in to the relaxing and inviting guest home on Indian Island, and creates a realistic and comfortable haven where seemingly nothing bad could happen that the unsuspecting guests naïvely relax into. Paired with Murray Martin's beautiful late 30's period costumes, Renee Robinson's appealing lighting design, and Verbeten's skilled understanding of thrust staging, as well as her perfectly tone-setting music which is utilized well to punctuate key moments of the nail-biting event, the play's design becomes a very believable and polished world which audiences find themselves drawing deeper and deeper into as the show progresses.

BWW Review: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE knocks 'em dead at The Arts Center Of Cannon CountyThe show boasts an incredibly strong cast of players including Charlie Winton, Ted Verbeten, Anne Armstrong Black, Mitch Shannon, Terri Ritter, Sherry Sunday Booth, Phil Mote, Douglas Campbell, Joshua Jennings, Skip Ritter, and David Cummings. Each brings a distinct physical, personal, and vocal characterization to their role which importantly distinguishes and solidifies each character in a way that audiences are able to keep track of- which is not something to take for granted in a show which introduces as many characters to a crowd right off the bat as ATTWN.

This talented group, displayed in the Broadway-caliber poster design which goes uncredited in the program (but is certainly highly deserving of praise) play off of one another well and effectively bring out the well-developed, nuanced richness of each of Christie's character's personalities which the show's investigation hinges on.

Verbeten takes meticulous care and detail in her staging of the thrilling whodunit, enriching the mystery of the piece through her attention to the specifics of the events which lead to the hair raising murders on Indian Island. Prior to the first death of the evening involving a poisoned glass, the cup in question and the bar unit onstage where it resides is come in to contact with nearly every suspect in the house. This is true too for the insidious weapon of the show's fourth murder, which occurs onstage in a shocking and electrifying reveal which I will write no more about for fear of spoiling the treat. This is done deliberately and unobtrusively, neither drawing the audience's attention and spoiling what will become a murder, nor leaving anyone unmarked from the potential list of suspects upon reflection. The result is a stirring event which leaves audiences puzzled and riveted to each movement which unfolds onstage, inspecting the events so precariously, they'll wish they had brought a magnifying glass to check for evidence.

Verbeten's sleight of hand and misdirection of staging is skillfully utilized as well in her treatment of the ten disappearing wooden soldier figurines which sit upon the mantle to represent the lives of the killer's victims. In the brief moments prior to each death, a soldier disappears mysteriously from the mantle, and is discovered in a chilling reveal to its horrified onlookers. The execution of this stage illusion is done seamlessly and swiftly onstage during the progression of scenes, and leaves audiences audibly stunned upon its discovery, generating the sense of intrigue and bewilderment within theatergoers that is shared by the helpless characters, and further connects the viewer to the intrigue and mystery of the night's events.

BWW Review: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE knocks 'em dead at The Arts Center Of Cannon CountyThe effective staging, thought-provoking performances, masterful scripting and technical surprises of the show culminate in a production which involves audiences and leaves viewers gasping, and jumping at numerous points throughout the performance - a certain scene lit by hand-held candles is a particularly successful example of a sweat-inducing, "anything can happen at any moment" theatrical exchange which jolts audiences with anticipation.

The sense of mystery and suspense created by this team is one which grips audience's attention with a stronger hold than is often found on the local stages, and while there are some moments in the show, primarily when the focus is on the sharing of previous action, or discussion of the events which have recently unfolded, during which the level of comfort the actors find together can become a bit more relaxed or conversational than one would expect for the ever-present dangerous circumstances which are looming, these moments are brief, and audiences remain engaged and alert for what is yet to come. You can feel the familiar itch of anticipation flow within the audience, electrifying onlookers sitting with focused attention on the edge of their seat and waiting with an unquenchable thirst for answers and resolution to this deeply satisfying night of drama.

Entering into its final weekend of performances this Halloween season, do not miss out on the highly laudable, truly memorable and skillfully mounted production of Agatha Christie's masterful thriller, And Then There Were None at The Arts Center of Cannon County with performances remaining on Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.artscenterofcc.com

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From This Author Payton McCarthy

Payton McCarthy is a Nashville based actor, director and theatre critic who has been studying and practicing the theatrical art form for the past 17 (read more...)

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