Theater Review: "And Then There Were None"

Lakewood Playhouse opens their 76th season with a bang

By Joann Varnell on September 16, 2014

Lakewood Playhouse opens their 76th season with a bang with Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. With such an ominous title (and with Christie's legacy), director Rick Hornor and the ensemble cast had their work cut out for them pulling this classic "whodunnit" together. Creating suspense while giving enough (but not too much) to the audience is a matter of pacing and nuance that is a challenge that makes or breaks a production. Set in a lodge on an island, 10 strangers are brought together by an unknown host. It is quickly revealed they are all hiding a "secret and a crime for which they must pay". The script is very well done and includes bits of humor that catches the audience off guard and gives a welcome relief to the suspense.

The actors in the ensemble varied in their abilities to drive the suspense and maintain the pacing during the first act. Fortunately they weren't off enough to lose the audience even though Act 1 seemed a little long. Act 2, however, maintained closer to a breakneck pace and managed to escalate the tension to the end. Michael Dresdner was one of the actors who embodied his character, William Blore, with a seemingly effortless ease. He was one of the more enjoyable actors to watch. Julie Seibold portrayal of Vera Claythorne managed to surprise as her character developed. She was especially good with how she watched and responded to the set and other characters. Several of the other actors made choices that seemed a bit stiff or a bit like a caricature during the first act that suddenly made sense during the second act.

Scenic designer Art Fick along with the master carpenter Larry Hagerman, scenic charge artist Carrie Foste and set dresser Hally Philips created a beautiful set that utilized the space making it feel larger and more open. Taxidermied waterfowl, a bear skin rug, deer antlers, artwork and furniture along with the wood flooring created an inviting space for the actors to move in and out of. Lighting designer Kristen Zetterstrom, sound designer John Burton, and costume designer Alex Lewington added to the feel of the mystery with a seamlessness that insures their contributions will go unnoticed by most patrons.

According to the director's note, "Christie did declare it was her best piece of "craftsmanship." Lakewood Playhouse's presentation of And Then There Were None displays quite a bit of craftsmanship as well. Director Hornor did a decent job of insuring his actors maintained the mystery until the end although "exceptional audience members" will be able to "figure out the murderer(s) before the climactic ending."

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 12, Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd. SW, $18-$24, 253.588.0042