Home Made Theater does justice to classic Agatha Christie murder mystery

Home Made Theater offers good fun in presenting a classic Agatha Christie murder mystery.

And the murderer is …

Ah, no. I won’t do that to you and spoil the fun some Agatha Christie innocents in Friday’s audience had: their gasps were audible. And even if you’ve seen the play, you’ll enjoy this satisfying production at HMT.

Upstage is a flight of stairs to French doors, beyond which is the far shore, a safe haven most of these guests will never see again.

The music before the show and between scenes is aptly ironic (“Blue Skies” and “It Had to Be You” indeed!). And the touches of red, in costuming and on the set, portend the spilling of blood.

Director Dianne O’Neill Filer and her creative tech crew share a vision about Christie creeps — not the people, though there are a few — but the setting. So the gray great room of this island mansion, with Art Deco touches, is a big backdrop for dramatic lighting changes and scary sound effects.

’And Then There Were None’

WHERE: Home Made Theater, Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Spa State Park

WHEN: Through Feb. 26

HOW MUCH: $26, $23

MORE INFO: 587-4427

Eight people have been summoned to Soldier Island by a Mr. And Mrs. Owen, but no one has ever met the couple. The guests are welcomed by a servant duo, Ethel (Robin Leary) and Tom (Barry Streifert) Rogers, new employees; and a handyman, Fred (Nicholas Casey): they, too, have never met the Owens. Introductions are made, drinks are passed around, suspicious glances are cast, and grievances registered. In short, your typical cocktail party.

But not exactly. Soon, a recorded voice grabs the attention of the crew with accusations of previously unpunished crimes. Except for Fred, each of them is charged with getting away with murder, so all will shortly receive their just desserts. Some protest, but after the death of Anthony Marston (Max Beyer), the remaining nine grow more suspicious, perhaps of an unseen murderer, perhaps of each other.

The prophecy of their deaths is made evident by a poem hung above the fireplace describing the demise of 10 little soldiers, represented by figurines on the mantel. As each person dies, a soldier disappears.

The performers work admirably to negotiate Act I exposition, during which we see a collection of types: the prim Miss Brent (a convincing Marilyn Detmer); the stuffy General (William M. Sanderson); the rough-and-tumble William Blore (Kasey Kenyon); the nervous Doctor Armstrong (Charles Fitz-Gerald); the even-keeled judge, Sir Lawrence Wargrave (Victor L. Cahn); the flirtatious young secretary, Vera (Kat McCarthy); and the cynical former soldier, Philip Lombard (Jonathan Hefter).

If I wanted a bit more energy and sense of surprise here and there, and if accents occasionally came and went, Act II rolled along to a chilling conclusion, thanks to Filer’s handling of this able ensemble.

I particularly liked the buoyant efforts of Beyer; McCarthy, whose stage presence is natural and relaxed; Cahn, who believably reveals the subtle thinking and circumspect demeanor of a barrister; and, particularly, Hefter, who goes for broke as this likable/hyper/shrewd/brave young man. Watch Lombard watching the others, and you’ll appreciate the layers of Hefter’s performance.

Last week, I reviewed Gilbert & Sullivan in Cohoes. Here’s another tried-and-true British chestnut worth taking in — good fun.

Categories: Entertainment

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