WHEN strangers come together in any location considered to be isolated, three things are certain; gruesome deaths are about to occur, audiences will have to work with more red herrings than an Aberdeen fish market – and Agatha Christie has been having lots of fun with her Remington Home Portable. 
Christie, in her writing of And Then There Were None, sets her murdering adventure in a solitary mansion off the coast of Devon. When a storm cuts 10 well-heeled strangers off from the mainland, the true reason for their presence on the island becomes horribly clear.
They’ve all been invited, mysteriously, by a Mr and Mrs UN Owen. 
(Yes, the clue is in the title, even though it isn’t spotted immediately.) 
But the 10 do come to realise all is not quite right when the only musical record on Soldier Island, a piece of jazzy dance music, suddenly transforms itself into a sinister series of accusations against each of the guests. 
We learn that all 10 really have been responsible for murders for which they could never be imprisoned or, in 1938, hanged. 
And, one by one, they are discarded like yesterday’s fish that’s begun to go off. 
Christie explores themes of guilt and justice here, while all the time keeping the audience close to the edge of their seats as they try to work out who has chosen to play God with the lives of these rather nasty people.  
It’s a storyline, set in the late 1930s, that has stood the test of time. The novel on which the play was based was originally Ten Little N******, which was clearly offensive and changed to Ten Little Indians, clearly by someone who didn’t quite understand how that wouldn’t work either. 
Yet, while suffering from an unfortunate title, it was not only Agatha Christie’s most read work, but also the best-selling crime novel of all time, selling more than 100 million copies worldwide since its first publication in 1939.
The final choice And Then There Were None sounds like the title of a Second World War film, but at least its political correctness isn’t open to debate. 
This brand new fresh and tingly production however has been reinvented for the 21st century, directed by the renowned Lucy Bailey, who was behind the long-running production of Agatha Christie’s Witness for The Prosecution. 
“Set in 1939, this is Agatha Christie’s most popular novel but also one of her darkest, reflecting the impending sense of doom of a world on the brink of war,” says Bailey. 
“Its depiction of a group of strangers stranded in a crisis of their own making feels very in tune with today’s climate emergency.”
That’s not to say this is a continually dark, brooding theatre piece. 
As with much of Agatha Christie’s work it’s now so stylised and of its time that it’s taken on an air of camp. 
And Christie was never one to shy away from comedic opportunity. 
Put this together with the quest to work out who the murderer is, and you have an evening of fun. 

And Then There Were None, The Theatre Royal, Glasgow, September 26-30


Fan of Stranger Things?

DEATH and justice are also powerful themes in Stranger Sings, a musical theatre parody of the Netflix horror sci-fi hit, Stranger Things, which stars Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown. 
The TV show told the story of the residents of the fictional small town of Hawkins, Indiana as they are plagued by a hostile alternate dimension known as the Upside Down, after a nearby human experimentation facility opens a gateway between it and the normal world. 
One critic described the TV show as “A mix of investigative drama and supernatural elements portrayed with horror and childlike sensibilities, while infusing references to the pop culture of the 1980s”. It certainly has a Twin Peaks-meets-The X-Files sensibility – but with more of a sense of dark fun, which suggests it’s perfect for transformation into Gothic musical comedy. 
The chaos in the theatre show begins following the disappearance of young Will Byers (who in this live musical telling is featured as a puppet at the hands of his frantic mother, Joyce).
But does the musical theatre parody which began life off-Broadway manage to come close to the likes of Rocky Horror or Little Shop of Horrors? It has to be said that a familiarity with the TV series is probably a necessity when it comes to recognition jokes.
The show however does succeed in having lots of fun with horror cliches, random 1980s pop culture references and a mild interrogation of the sexual politics of the series (and the era). “And it has a pulsating synth soundtrack with nosebleed high notes, a box of fright wigs and a dancing Demogorgon,” said one critic. 
Fans of Stranger Things will surely love it. 
Stanger Sings, The Pavilion Theatre, September 23