Jacksonville’s Bolles School presented its spring show March 14, 15 & 16 at the McGehee Auditorium on the San Jose Campus.
The 1939 novel by British author Agatha Christie has apparently been a part of the school’s curriculum as Director Laura Rippel mentioned in a pre-show curtain speech that it has been a favorite of Bolles’ students. In 1943 Christie adapted it for the stage as “Ten Little Indians” and it was also made into a very good movie in 1945; additional movies followed in 1965, 1975 and 1989. American publishers changed the title to “And Then There Were None”.
The plot goes something like this. Ten people are brought to Indian Island off the coast of England by a mysterious host. They become isolated and confined there when a supply boat is unable to reach them because of a strong storm. The guests have one thing in common; all are reportedly guilty of murder, but were never convicted in a court of law due to the limitations of the circumstantial evidence against them.
Someone has chosen to seek revenge. A framed copy of the rhyme “Ten Little Indians” has been placed on the fireplace mantel, along with ten toy statuettes. One by one the guests are murdered in accordance with the progression described in the rhyme, and with each death, a statuette disappears. As they interact, we learn about their past crimes and become caught up in the rising tension and paranoia they experience as they begin to suspect each other.
Christie has assembled interesting characters for the actors to perform and for us to observe and study. There is the prim and proper spinster Emily Brent (HANNAH KORBRIN); the playboy Anthony Marston ( JULIAN VEGA); the tottering military man, General Mackenzie (MAX ACKERMAN); the attractive secretary Vera Clayhorn (MAY LEE); the fashionable physician Dr. Armstrong (LILY DONOVAN); the overbearing judge Sir Laurence Wargrave (BLAKE STEINBERG); former police detective William Blore (JAKE BISTRONG); bold soldier of fortune Philip Lombard (CECIL JENNINGS); the butler Rogers (MATT MCPHILLIPS), and the cook Mrs. Rodgers (EMILY JOHNS). In a cameo role as the young lady who works on the boat that delivers supplies to the island, Fannie Narracott is played by MADISON MEYER.
If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, you know she never bloodies the stages. Knifings and axes to the head take place offstage. Her other choices, which include using guns, poison, drowning, and a hypodermic needle, are all neatly done.
Director Rippel had an excellent cast for this show, with a mix of theatre newcomers and veteran graduating seniors. This play was quite a challenge to the cast, as they all had many lines of dialogue to learn, and also had to use English accents, which they did quite well. In addition, the second act has a lengthy scene that occurs at night when the power fails on the island and each actor had to work with burning candles as the only illumination for moving around the stage.
Technical Director Andrew Payne created a dramatic storm complete with thunder and flashing lightning which we as an audience observed through the French doors. Art Director/Set Designer Herman McEachin was outstanding and certainly one of the stars in this show. The set was picture perfect, with a fireplace and large, comfortable upholstered furniture. We were particularly impressed with the bearskin rug. Ria Jogleakar was the stage manager for the production.
The costumes from Make Believe Costume and Dancewear featured restrained and stylish clothing, with suits for the men, both tailored and elegant dresses for the women, and traditional black and white for the servants.
We will not divulge who done it! You may have the opportunity to see this play again or may want to get the novel from your local library, and the movies are shown from time to time on cable stations that feature older films.
“And Then There Were None” is a play that is very nostalgic for the male half of the Dual Critics, as it was the first review I wrote for the then First Coast Entertainer back in 1981. It was called “Ten Little Indians” back then and was on stage at Theatre Jacksonville under the direction of the late Hal Henderson.
This was our second visit to the Bolles campus to review their productions. Both productions were excellent, and we look forward to returning.