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Review: No mystery behind Agatha Christie’s success

A scene from “And Then There Were None” features Cher Alvarez, Yousof Sultani and Zachary Keller.
A scene from “And Then There Were None” features Cher Alvarez, Yousof Sultani and Zachary Keller.

OAKBOOK TERRACE – Everyone is a suspect in Agatha Christie’s popular murder-mystery “And Then There Were None” now onstage at Drury Lane Theatre, where armchair detectives are gathering to test their acuity as sleuths.

The 1943 play, based on Christie’s 1939 book, ostensibly brings together 10 curious strangers for a get-away weekend on a remote island off the coast of Devon, England. Each guest harbors dark secrets from a murderous past.

Imagine the discomfort triggered when the unidentified host in absentia calls his guests to account for their sins via a recording. The play begins in earnest when a small ceramic statue for each of the 10 guests disappears from its perch on a fireplace, signifying the countdown to a single remaining child in a children’s nursery rhyme, Ten Little Soldier Boys. “And Then There Were None,” astutely directed by Jessica Fisch, has a cast that acknowledges Christie as “a master puzzle maker whose novels unfold ... in dazzling displays of suspense, misdirection and ingenuity.”

Fisch also has had to deal with the work’s two racist and insensitive previous titles. “We have created a production that navigates and comments on the misogyny deeply woven into the fabric of 1939 Britain,” she says in a program note.

Credit a job well done to the cast: Cher Alvarez, Matt DeCaro, Jennifer Engstrom, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Casey Hoekstra, Paul-Jordan Jansen, Zachary Keller, David Kortemeier, Yousof Sultani, Paul Tavianini and Bruce Young.

Meanwhile, Andrew Boyce’s seaside set is transforming, Driscoll Otto’s lighting is formidable, Kate DeVore excels as dialect coach, and Ray Nardelli gets the right note on sound design.

British-born Christie, who died in 1976 at 85, left a respectable legacy of crime novels, including story collections around Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, the fictional detectives she created. Her stage play “The Mousetrap” holds the world record for longest initial run. It opened in the West End on Nov. 25, 1952, and in April 2019 was still running after more than 27,000 performances.

If you go

WHAT: “And Then There Were None”

WHEN: Through Sept. 1

WHERE: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace

COST: $45 to $65

TICKET INFO: 630-530-0111; DruryLaneTheatre.com

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