By Manju Sampat
We all love Agatha Christie, and the idea of reading her classic mysteries or seeing a film or play based on one of her books, is simply delicious! A refreshing new theatre group, Making Noise, has brought to the Mumbai stage, Agatha Christie’s masterpiece ‘AND THEN THERE WERE NONE’. This show premiered last Saturday at St. Andrews Auditorium and another show is scheduled for March 10th at the same venue. Hopefully there will be many more shows to follow.
Ten strangers from various backgrounds are lured by varied invitations from a mysterious Mr. U. N Owen, (therefore ‘unknown’), to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast. As they arrive one by one, the audience is introduced to them. First the caretakers of the place, Mr and Mrs. Rogers, who have only been in service for a week, next the rakish Captain Lombard (Tanmay Ranjan)and Vera Claythorne, (Laura Mishra) supposedly Mr. Owen’s secretary. The next boat load of people arrive, and this includes Justice Wargrave (Navin Talreja), Denise (Prerna Talwar) and three others. Their host fails to appear, and as the weather changes the island becomes a sinister and claustrophobic place to be stranded on. Over dinner, an unseen voice accuses each of them of harbouring a guilty secret, and by the end of the evening one of them is dead. They all realise that the murderer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again. In due course, the guests die one by one like nine pins, perfectly in sync with an ancient nursery rhyme, that details how each will die. The survivors try to keep one step ahead of their ingenious stalker, who seems bent on reaching the final line, but unfortunately the tension and menace that such a scenario ought to bring, is not there consistently in this production. That could be because of the script adaptation. But the surprise ending, where the murderer admits to wanting to commit “murder on a grand scale”, is a shocker and keeps the audience hooked.
This play is ably directed by Laura Mishra, who is also very convincing as Vera Claythorne. Other performances that are noteworthy are by Prerna Talwar, Tanmay Ranjan and Navin Talreja. The sets and props are very authentic and the sound effects and lighting are excellent. Making Noise, and its talented members need to be nurtured and encouraged in every way by the Mumbai audiences!