Before I start my review, let me note that this article may sound vaguely familiar. I initially reviewed this performance just over ten months ago, when the MOVP were literally minutes from raising the curtain on opening night for this show before it, along with practically every other performance in the entire country, was closed by the pandemic. The cast and crew bided their time, holding on to hope that they could one day finish what they started nearly a year ago. They are excited to be able to finally do that. I am too, and I hope you are as well. And now, on with my review.
It’s the prototypical Agatha Christie story—a seemingly disparate collection of people with something secret that connects them all. In this case, it’s a group of ten people who all quickly learn that they’ve been invited to an isolated mansion on a hard-to-reach island under false pretenses. It seems, we learn early on, the host is not coming because he or she does not actually exist and each invitee stands accused of causing the death of someone. For one, a doctor, it’s someone he operated on while intoxicated. For another, a judge, it’s a man he sentenced to death. For still another, a personal secretary, it’s a child who drowned under her watch. Each has a story and each claims to be innocent, but someone doesn’t think they are and someone seems to be executing them one at a time, but who is it? Is it someone watching them or could it be one of them?
This is the situation in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, a delightfully macabre play presented by the Mid-Ohio Valley Players, starting appropriately on Friday, the 13th of March. This play will keep you guessing right up to the end. I’m even told your guess that’s correct on one night may be wrong on another, as there are two endings in which there are different culprits.
The large cast is well chosen. At the center is the inimitable R. J. Lowe, who is usually to be found delighting audiences at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. The MOVP are blessed to have him, though, as his portrayal of Sir Lawrence Wargrave is just terrific. As a judge, he knows the criminal mind and as a man who has worked with the police, he knows how to conduct an investigation. This character demands an actor with presence, and Mr. Lowe brings that in spades.
Another terrific performance is turned in by Brianna Johnson as Vera Claythorne. Hired sight unseen by the “hosts” of the party, she is bright, efficient, and beautiful. As the story progresses, we also find Ms. Johnson’s Vera to be tough and resourceful. Her performance is all the more impressive in light of the fact that this is her first time on the MOVP stage.
Also deserving mention is Sean Shoop as Captain Philip Lombard, a man who deals with stress with coolness and a little more humor than is generally appropriate. And a really big gun. Mr. Shoop’s performance is spot on as a flirty, tough young man who, like all of his compatriots, is not quite what he seems at first. Finally, Tim Tuten deserves praise for stepping in to admirably take over the role of Blore. It is never a simple task to take over a role from another actor, after timing and chemistry have already been established. Mr. Tuten did so quite well.
The cast is uniformly strong under the direction of Mack McHale, who, in true community theater style, jumps in to play General Mackenzie, an old man who still struggles to deal with the loss of his long-dead wife. Based on the title, you can probably guess who survives, but the audience is in the dark as to whodunit clear to the last few minutes.
Also worthy of mention is the set. The tech crews have outdone themselves this time. Everything, even the stuffed bear over the fireplace, has an authentic feel. This is just a good show that everyone will enjoy. So, get your tickets soon by visiting Marty’s Print Shop or going to movp.org. The curtain goes up at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, January 22, with subsequent evening performances on January 23, 28, 29, and 30 at 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday, January 24 at 3:00 p.m. See this show, especially if you don’t know the story. You’ll be glad you did!