by Lianne Potts
Healthcare Drama Society’s first ever production opened to a sold-out theatre last Friday night, and it’s safe to say they pulled it off in spectacular fashion. As a newly-formed society which has been running less than a year, a lot must have been riding on this debut performance, but I’m happy to report that all its members’ hard work truly paid off. The cast and crew put on a gripping, professional and highly entertaining show that had the audience singing its praises all the way out of the theatre.
‘And Then There Were None’, based upon Agatha Christie’s classic novel, was adapted for the stage in 1943. It tells the story of ten strangers who have been summoned to a house on a small island off the coast of Devon by the mysterious Mr and Mrs Owen. Paranoia and tension begin to build as they find themselves cut off from the mainland and are haunted by an eerie nursery rhyme which seems to be coming true as, one by one, the inhabitants of the house are murdered.
This murder-mystery tale was a perfect choice for the society’s first production, as it continues to be not only accessible but incredibly engaging, even almost eighty years after its publication. The audience were immediately won over by the comedic twist on the original story, with Daniel Adams never failing to get a laugh out of us as the dashing Captain Lombard. In addition, the play’s funnier moments were perfectly offset by moments of real tension, as the characters struggled to identify the killer in their midst, with the pressure mounting as their numbers dwindled. Lissie Boam shone as Vera Claythorne, seamlessly switching between comedic melodrama and frantic panic, and maintaining an incredible stage presence throughout. Luke Murphy also gave a particularly outstanding performance as Justice Wargrave, especially in the play’s final scene.
This production also incorporated several unique elements which helped to bring the story to life even further. The decision to include a Chorus worked very effectively as a way to illustrate each character’s (often sinister) backstory, and allowed the audience to become even more invested in each of them as individuals. A clever element of audience interaction was also included, as during the interval we were invited to place a penny in the jar representing the person we thought the murderer could be. It was a shame that the audience’s verdict wasn’t revealed after the play had ended, but it was nevertheless a fantastic way to fully involve the audience in the story, and fuel our debates about ‘whodunnit’.
All in all, Healthcare Drama Society should give themselves an enormous round of applause. Anyone who didn’t know that this was their first ever performance as a society would have thought they’d been doing this for years. I eagerly await their next production, and I hope we see much more of this society for years to come!