Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None' is a mystery thriller that has regularly graced the screen and stage with its adaptations. This time, Open Space Theatre took the reins in a community theatre and delivered a beautifully executed play.
To describe the plot summary in short: seven guests, a newly hired secretary and two staff gather at a mansion on an isolated island, invited by the hosts, the Owens. The Owens have been delayed and during dinner a recording plays, accusing everyone present guilty of murder. Perplexed, the guests realise they do not know who the Owens' are and when the first guest is murdered, tensions rise, along with finger-pointing. Soon, they come to understand that they have all been brought to this island by a maniac who intends to deliver his form of justice.
The modest-sized stage was decorated to show a living room with a fireplace, a bar, a balcony, and a terrace that led to the implied ocean outside the mansion. The seating arrangements were minimal and strayed to accommodate the movement of the actors and I found that it helped to create an image of space bigger than it was.
A stark display of the "Ten Little Soldiers" poem and ten hanging dolls added to the nerve-wracking foreshadowing of the plot. With each death, a doll disappeared. Having not read the original play beforehand, I was pleasantly surprised by this detail.
Translated and directed by M Arifur Rahman and produced by Mahjabeen Chowdhury, this play elegantly delivers the message of the original adaptation. The set and light design by Ashiq Rahman Leeon added to the mystery of the plot.
Both the director and the set and light designer played pivotal roles in the play so they were mostly on stage.
The aptitude of the backstage crew should be noted because they elevated the actors' performance with well-timed lighting and sound effects. Every area was distinguished by different lights and whenever someone mentioned going outside or stepped onto the terrace, the soothing sound of waves crashing on the shore was played. The ambiance created from the beginning set the mood for the rest of the play perfectly.
In addition, the actors delivered their performances without any hitches even though some of them were new, as we learnt after the play. The sound effects, their lines and their body language often portrayed different messages.
One of the unique features of the play was how the actors played their roles with a nod to our Bangladeshi culture, despite having a plot set on foreign land and culture. Their conversation styles and tones were reminiscent of the way we talk with people around us and hence they had the audience enthralled by their performance.
Overall, the production was successful given what they had to work with. We are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and Open Space Theatre took precautions to accommodate us and the actors.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons why some scenes were different from the original play. They carried out their performance in one space with ten actors despite the original having more characters showing up at different places and times.
Though there were some minor problems but given the effort the actors and the crew put in, the problems were but a needle in a haystack.
Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None' by Open Space Theatre was performed at Bangladesh Mohila Samity on 15 and 16 March, 2021. I thoroughly enjoyed the play and I look forward to what the actors and the production team of Open Space Theatre come up with next.