DeWitt Dame Agatha Christie – who wrote more than five dozen mystery novels and a dozen plays – thought “And Then There Were None” was her best piece of stage “craftsmanship.”
While many audiences prefer her twisted “Witness for the Prosecution,” Christie favored her classic ten-character whodunit based on her 1939 novel, “Ten Little N.” Yes, that was this story’s initial title before stage and film versions changed the name to “Ten Little Indians” and “And Then There Were None.”
Despite its dark origins, there’s nothing hard-boiled about “And Then There Were None.” The quintessential British parlor mystery is more fanciful than frightful, a mind-game mystery wholly lacking any resemblance to reality, just as its many murders lack blood.
But it can be entertaining, and CNY Playhouse’s current production reminds us why Christie so admired the work. She craftily created ten distinct characters complete with suspicious back stories, dropped them all on an island off the coast of Devon and had a disembodied voice accuse each and every one of murder.
Then she pits one against another as they desperately try to unravel the source and import of the recorded accusations. The recording’s inaudibly low volume at CNY Playhouse’s opening night on June 13 left a major gap in needed exposition.
Nevertheless, a game cast directed by award-winning helmsman Jon Wilson made the muddled mystery move briskly along through three acts, with two intermissions.
Most notable was the bewitching brunette, Alicia Rose Bronzetti, making her Playhouse debut as Vera Claythorne. Though her projection occasionally faltered, Bronzetti displayed a confident stage presence and a playful face.
A professional singer and vocal instructor, Bronzetti could do wonders for future CNY Playhouse musical productions, should she continue her adventures on the stage.
Actors playing the other nine invited suspects included Mark Allen Holt as former soldier Philip Lombard, Cody Engstrom as devil-may-care dandy Anthony Marston, Vincent Randazzo as detective William Blore, John LaCasse as aging General MacKenzie, Tracy Martin as the sour dowager Emily Brent, Dan Stevens as retired judge Sir Lawrence Wargrave, Tyler Ianuzi as the nervous Dr. Armstrong, and David Vickers and Heather Roach as the butler and maid, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers.