Philobiblon: And then there was Agatha Christie ...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

And then there was Agatha Christie ...

Even the defenders of The Mousetrap, which has been filling a London theatre for 52 years, admit that its artistic merits, if any, have long been eclipsed by its status as an institution. It will continue, perhaps even should its audience mutate into another species, but can Agatha Christie survive as a writer who still have something to say to the modern world?

Her fiercely protective estate had put a moratorium on theatre productions of her work, in an attempt to "freshen them up", so when And Then There Were None, in a new adaptation by Kevin Elyot, opened at the Gielgud it was not just this production, but the whole theatrical future of Christie, that was at stake.

The play is still reasonably true to the original tale of a party of ten people, who are morally if not legally murderers, summoned to an isolated island to meet their just desserts - well except of course that the old title, Ten Little Niggers has long been sentenced to death. Rogers, the butler, keeps a lower-class stiff upper lip as he continues to minister to 10 guests invited to the house party by the mysteriously absent hosts, within minutes of learning of the death of his wife, and the stage is filled with crusty military types, proper spinster ladies and all of the other inhabitants of an ideal English village circa 1920. READ MORE


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