For 35 years, the New York State Theatre Institute has been committed to both education and entertainment. And its current offering, “And Then There Were None,” continues that commitment.
The play, based on the novel originally published as “Ten Little Indians” is, as any great Agatha Christie mystery, peopled with quirky characters, dark and stormy nights and isolated country houses. The red herrings are a-flying, as are the scary murders, the unexpected twists and turns of the plot, and the sly Christie humor.
Director David Bunce, who is making his debut in that arena, has rounded up all the usual suspects: Joe Quandt (Rogers); Eileen Schuyler (Mrs. Rogers); Mary Jane Hanson (Vera Claythorne); David Girard (Anthony Marston); Joel Aroeste (William Blore); John Romeo (General MacKenzie); Carole Edie Smith (Emily Brent); Ron Komora (Sir Lawrence Wargrave); and John McGuire (Dr. Armstrong). Newcomer Tim Dugan (Philip Lombard) and Richard Harte (Fred Narracott) round out this capable cast.
‘And Then There Were None’
WHERE: New York State Theatre Institute, Schacht Fine Arts Center, Troy
WHEN: Through Feb. 11
HOW MUCH: $20-$10
MORE INFO: 274-3256 or www.nysti.org
The play is set on an island off the coast of England. Ten people are invited by their mysterious hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Owens, to spend a leisurely weekend by the sea. Naturally, the circumstances of their innocent vacation turn out to be much more sinister than that. The seven guests and three employees are each accused of a particular murder (or murders) and the booming voice of their “host,” via a recorded message, vows to hold them accountable. As people begin to die, it occurs to the survivors that there may not be an actual Mr. and Mrs. Owens and that the murderer may reside among them.
The murders are fueled by a nursery rhyme prominently displayed on a wall above the fireplace and, as the characters are dispatched, the 10 little soldier figures displayed there as well disappear one by one. It is Christie at her most intriguing.
Set designer Ken Goldstein has done gorgeous work with an art deco living space, complete with a sliding glass door covering the entire upstage area, chrome furnishings and an exquisite chandelier. Costumer Robert Anton has created period costumes that are both attractive and suited to the characters’ status.
Sound, by 100% Sound, is particularly notable in the crashing of the sea against a craggy cliff and a second act thunderstorm, where lighting designer John McLain shines as well.
Standing out in the cast are Dugan as the high-energy, apparently low-principled Lombard, and the reliable Komora, who makes wise and credible acting choices.
NYSTI’s Christie is pure fun. We are fortunate to have this institutional treasure in our area.