Tuckerton-Little Egg Harbor Leader

Agatha Christie Classic Coming to Little Egg Harbor

‘And Then There Were None’
By Rick Mellerup | Nov 01, 2019
Photo by: Rick Mellerup Emily Brent (Janet Wolf) looks disapprovingly on young Anthony Marston (Richard Engebretsen) in a scene from “And Then There Were None”

Little Egg Harbor — The Little Egg Theatre Co. will present Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 14-16, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17 at the Edward Thornton Little Egg Harbor Community Center, 319 West Calabreeze Way.

If you’re not familiar with the name of the show, you can be excused. Christie’s 1939 novel originally had a very different name, one that cannot be repeated here. When it was released in the U.S. in 1940, it took the title And Then There Were None, but American paperback reprints between 1964 and 1986 used the title 10 Little Indians. That eventually came to be considered politically incorrect. It wasn’t anywhere nearly as bad as the original book title.

Whatever the name, Christie’s book was a huge success, selling over 100 million copies, making it the world’s best-selling mystery and perhaps the sixth-biggest selling book of any kind in history.

Christie herself adapted it into a play that opened in 1943. The classic mystery must have surely provided a moment of respite in war-weary London and it had a long run, as it did when it opened on Broadway in 1944.

“And Then There Were None” is a classic whodunit, filled with red herrings. Ten people are invited by letter to a house party in a mansion on a rocky island off the coast of Devon, England. Most have never met each other, and it is indeed a rather strange human menagerie.

Rogers (Ricky Franco) and Mrs. Rogers (Adelle Conroy) have been hired to serve as butler/handyman and cook/cleaner for the affair. Vera Claythorne (Christine Danelson) has been engaged as the homeowner’s wife’s secretary. But why aren’t Mr. and Mrs. Owen, who wrote the invitation letters, there? And why have Wargrave (Grey LeCuyer), a respected judge; Philip Lombard (Cormac Morrissey), an adventurer/mercenary; Dr. Armstrong (Chuck Deeney), once a renowned surgeon who now specializes in treating people with nervous conditions; Emily Brent (Janet Wolf), a religious fanatic; the retired General McKenzie (Ken Shirak); and Anthony Marston (Richard Engebretsen), a young wastrel who loves fast cars, been brought into one place? They seem to have nothing in common.

Weird enough, but not nearly as weird as it is after the party is brought to a screeching halt by the playing of a mysterious phonograph record that accuses them all of murder and they start getting knocked off, one by one, in a manner suggested by a dark rhyme hanging over the fireplace:

Ten little soldier boys going out to dine.

One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little soldier boys sat up very late.

One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Etc., etc. until there were none.

Things get worse and worse. Who is the fellow, Blore, mentioned in the recording? There’s nobody named Blore at the party, just a millionaire from South Africa named Davis. Fred Naracott (Jim Henry), the man who brings the milk and bread and other provisions each morning by boat from the mainland, doesn’t show up – they’ll end up surviving on condensed milk, Ryvita biscuits and “tinned stuff.” The weather worsens – there is indeed a stereotypical dark and stormy night that knocks out the power. And the remaining partygoers have come to the conclusion that the murderer is, in fact, one of them.

How do they dare sleep? What will they eat and drink? When will they start going for each other’s throats?

Every time one of the characters – and many audience members – think they’ve solved the mystery, they are soon proven wrong. It’s a classic whodunit, no matter what the name. But what else would you expect from the one name on the books and play scripts that remained the same throughout the decades – Agatha Christie.

Tickets are $15, general admission. They’re on sale online at littleeggtheatreco.com or at the door up to 30 minutes before the show. Beware of waiting, especially for the Sunday matinee.

Refreshments will be offered, as will free coffee, at all shows. Be advised to bring seat cushions – the community center has hard metal folding chairs.

Rick Mellerup

rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

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