Agatha Christie isn’t known as the Queen of Crime for nothing. There were twists aplenty in Fareham Musical Society’s production of her play, an adaptation of her 100 million-copy best-selling novel.
Ten strangers meet on an island, and one by one they are picked off by an unknown killer after each being accused of murder. As the death toll rises, the increasingly small group of survivors realise the culprit is one of them - but who?
In a departure from their usual repertoire, Fareham Musical Society’s cast had to prove their acting chops with no singing or dancing to hide behind.
The order of death correlated with the quality of acting seen onstage, so that by the halfway point the remaining characters were all solidly portrayed. Alexandra Maclean was very watchable as the glamorous Vera Claythorne - minus an awkwardly forced fit of hysterics - and as Philip Lombard, Jonathan Redwood could have walked straight out of the 1940s.
The play too picked up momentum with every killing. A first act, weighed down by exposition, gave way to a second act of mounting intrigue and a third act that hit audiences with plot twist after plot twist.
This is credit to Christie’s skill as a writer rather than the production itself, but a well designed and lit set, a great scene set in the dark and effective use of a stage gun enhanced the suspense.
Some of the deaths were played for shocks but got laughs instead, and dramatic music which closed each act added to the ham factor.
But then there is something inherently camp about Agatha Christie, as well as serial killings based on a children’s nursery rhyme. And by the final few, we were in the palms of the actor’s hands.