AND then there were thrillers, music, spoken word and comedy gigs, a cricket legend show and smooth crooner tribute for Charles Hutchinson to recommend.
Thriller of the week: Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Grand Opera House, York, November 22 to 25, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees
AFTER Pick Me Up Theatre’s September staging at Theatre@41, Monkgate, here comes Lucy Bailey’s “genuinely terrifying” touring production of Agatha Christie’s best-selling 1939 crime novel, starring, among others, Andrew Lancel as William Blore, David Yelland as Judge Wargrave and Sophie Walter as Vera Claythorne.
Ten strangers – eight guests and a butler and his housekeeper wife – are lured to a solitary mansion off the coast of Devon. When a storm cuts them off from the mainland, the true reason for their presence on Soldier Island becomes horribly clear. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Spanish sarcasm of the week: Ignacio Lopez, YO1 Live Lounge, York Barbican, November 18, 8pm
SPANISH export Ignacio Lopez, from Live At The Apollo, The Now Show and Stand-Up Sesh, scrutinises his immigrant upbringing and family tree in a show about clashing cultures and never fitting in.
Sharing his biggest failures with a globe-trotting story of music, comedy and admin cock-ups, exotic outsider comedian Ignacio skewers Britain and Spain with an armada of stand-up sarcasm, silliness and songs. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Comedy times two at Grand Opera House, York: Simon Brodkin, Screwed Up, November 18, 8pm; Lucy Beaumont, The Trouble & Strife, November 19, 8pm
THE most viewed British comedian of all time on TikTok, notorious prankster and Lee Nelson creator Simon Brodkin rips into celebrity culture, social media, the police, Putin, Prince Andrew and Jesus in his new stand-up show, Screwed Up. Nothing is off limits, from his mental health to his five arrests and his family.
An award-winning stand-up (and actress) before she met Leeds comedian and now husband Jon Richardson, Hull-born Lucy Beaumont lets slip on her rollercoaster world through a surrealist lens. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Chat show of the week: An Audience With Henry Blofeld, York Theatre Royal, November 20, 7.30pm
TEST Match Special alumnus Henry Blofeld, 84, will discuss rather more than the art of cricket commentary. “If you think you’re going to learn how to play a forward defensive, you’ll be sadly disappointed,” he forewarns.
Instead, expect his colourful life story in a tongue-in-cheek show, full of after-dinner anecdotes and meandering digressions where Blowers pokes fun at himself and his TMS gaffes and his subjects veer from intergalactic travel to horticulture to mountaineering. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Folk gig of the week: The Trials Of Cato, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 8pm
2019 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato pay homage to the folk tradition while twisting old bones into something febrile and modern, combining stomping tunes and captivating stories.
Formed in Beirut, Lebanon, the Welsh/English band have been based in Britain since 2016, releasing the albums Hide And Hair in 2018 and Gog Magog, named after the mythical giant of Arthurian legend and a Cambridgeshire hilltop, last year. Mandolin player and vocalist Polly Bolton has joined the trio after leaving The Magpies. Support act will be Annie Dressner, once of New York City, now of Cambridgeshire. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk
Underground movement of the week: Navigators Art & Performance, The Basement Sessions, The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, York, November 25, doors, 7pm
YORK creative hub Navigators Art & Performance launches the Basement Sessions series of Music, Spoken Word and Comedy – Live, Local and Loud! with a bill of performers from the York area and “a few surprises up the sleeve”.
In the line-up are punk/post-punk/alt. rock/indie band What Fresh Hell, playing their farewell gig; pop, soul and acoustic singer-songwriter Jess Gardham; comedian John Pease; performance artist Carrieanne Vivianette, exploring the legacies of radical women through voice, movement and improvisation, and jazz-turned-punk Battle of the Bands finalists Attacker TV. Box office: bit.ly/nav-base-1 or on the door.
Tribute show of the week: Atila Huseyin in King For A Day: The Nat King Cole Story, National Centre for Early Music, York, November 26, 7pm
ATILA Huseyin combines live music, narration and projected archive images and footage in his concert celebration of one the 20th century’s greatest vocalists and entertainers, Nat King Cole. of the Twentieth Century: Nat King Cole.
Accompanied by world-class musicians, Huseyin performs such favourites as Nature Boy, Unforgettable and When I Fall in Love alongside stylish reworkings of his lesser-known gems. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Looking ahead: Chris McCausland, Yonks!, Grand Opera House, York, November 10 2024
LIVERPUDLIAN comedian Chris McCausland will follow up his 140-date Speaky Blinder tour with 104 shows on his Yonks! travels in January to May and September to December 2024. Why Yonks? “I’ve been called an ‘overnight success’, even though I’ve been doing this for yonks,” he reasons after more than two decades on the stand-up circuit.
This year, McCausland, 46, has hosted his own travel series, Wonders Of The World I Can’t See, on Channel 4. His Work In Progress show at Selby Town Hall on Wednesday (8pm) has sold out. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
ANDREW Lancel returns to the Grand Opera House stage in York next week in Lucy Bailey’s “genuinely terrifying” touring production of Agatha Christie’s most successful thriller And Then There Were None.
“I think I first played there [in October 2014] in The Small Hand, a Susan Hill play produced by Bill Kenwright, the first of 14 I did with Bill, who became a great friend,” says Andrew. “He meant so much to me.”
Andrew, best known for his villainous role as Frank Foster in Coronation Street, has since appeared at the Grand Opera House as a jury member in Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men in December 2014 and manager Brian Epstein in Cilla The Musical in January 2018.
Now he is eight weeks into the first leg of a nationwide tour that will take a break after the York run before resuming from January to April 2024 and later travelling all over the world. “It’s been doing very well,” he says. “We’re rammed in every town, with standing ovations after every performance. Agatha Christie plays are going to last as long as Shakespeare will be done. She’s a genre in herself.”
Christie’s stage version of her best-selling 1939 crime novel revolves around ten strangers – eight guests, a butler and housekeeper – being lured to a solitary mansion off the coast of Devon. When a storm cuts them off from the mainland, the true reason for their presence on Soldier Island becomes horribly clear. One death at a time.
“People are getting bumped off. I don’t recommend anyone going near the stage!” jokes Andrew. “It’s a very timely production, with that thing of strangers going off to an island together. Look at TV shows, people going off to places and being eliminated one by one.
“In the hands of Lucy Bailey, who’s the reason I’m doing this show, she brings layers and textures of theatricality and darkness to this good old-fashioned thriller that starts very traditionally but then goes to another level. It’s shocking, but there’s also humour and the familiar characteristics of Agatha Christie.”
Christie has written more than one ending to And Then There Were None, but Andrew will not reveal the outcome in Bailey’s “reinvention for the 21st century”, except to say: “It’s very true to the novel, but what people are going to see at the Grand Opera House, as they are seeing up and down the country, is something unique, shocking. Our base line is the novel…but I ain’t gonna give anything away!”
Andrew continues: “Even if you know the play, you’ll see it in a new light in the way Lucy has done it. Its appeal spans the generations and it’s great to see some schools coming to it as their first piece of theatre. You hope they will pick up the Christie novels and come back to the theatre.”
Andrew plays William Blore, the retired police inspector summoned to Soldier Island, as it turns out, to answer belatedly to the crime of gaining promotion for himself by sending an innocent man named Landor to a penal colony, where he died.
“There are many sides to Blore. Everyone arrives on the island, lured there by an invitation where their curiosity and greed has got the better of them, but with a history of guilt in a crime for reasons that are revealed one by one,” he says.
“But Blore starts from a very different place [of authority] and it’s fascinating to see him gradually breaking down. Learning everyone’s back story is so revealing.
“The 1939 setting means the shadow of war hangs over them too, and it’s incredible what a harbinger this play is, given what’s going on around us now.”
Andrew is “really enjoying” playing Blore in Bailey’s production. “It’s a very physical part and a very physical play, from fights to montages to almost dances,” he says.
The death toll keeps rising, “but it’s very much an ensemble piece, and without giving too much away, they are there throughout”. Another intriguing reason to dive into the murk of And Then There Were None but be aware that tickets are selling fast.
Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday (21/11/2023) to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
NOT to be mistaken for Lucy Bailey’s “21st century reinvention” of Agatha Christie’s best-selling crime novel, bound for the Grand Opera House in November, this is the first of three Pick Me Up productions, made in York, one per month, this autumn.
For the record, Pick Me Up producer Robert Readman secured the rights for staging And Then There Were None before the Fiery Angel, ROYO and Royal & Derngate co-production emerged over the horizon.
He had put in place an autumn season to show off all the talents at Pick Me Up’s disposal: experienced hands for the “straight play”, Christie’s posh house party thriller; blossoming youths in The Worst Witch in late-October, and musical comedy exponents in Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein the following week.
Readman is a Christie aficionado – he could pick her as his specialist subject for Mastermind – but decided to spread the directorial workload for the season ahead, having already cast And Then There Were None before the handing the reins to cast member Andrew Isherwood to steer a film noir-style nail biter.
Readman will direct Young Frankenstein, preceded by Rosy Rowley overseeing The Worst Witch, but his creativity is at play in And Then There Were None too in his design for a Christie murder mystery set in 1939 with Europe on the brink of war.
Christie had talked of a bleak house that should feel like it had long been empty, furnished but stark and unwelcoming. Readman, with his collector’s eye for acquiring props, furniture, costumes and more besides at his Chicken Sheds warehouse in Bubwith, delivers the period look to the T.
Furniture from a friend’s house move, tick. A redundant fireplace from another friend’s refurb, tick. The glass-framed doors from York Theatre Royal’s production of Private Lives, tick. The ten little soldier boy models, from Readman’s research, tick. An Ercol chair from the Readman family stock, tick.
He assembles them on an end-on/side on set that dominates the Theatre@41 black box, deliberately so to give Isherwood’s production an oppressive, claustrophobic air. There will be no escape from Soldier Island, off the Devon Coast, for the eight house guests, butler and his housekeeper wife, assembled there at the intriguing invitation of a certain Mr and Mrs U N Owen (whose identity and whereabouts shall indeed remain unknown).
One by one, they are introduced to the audience, first the husband-and-wife staff Rogers and Mrs Rogers, played by husband-and-wife Martyn and Jeanette Hunter, Martyn delightfully understated, Jeanette gone, spoiler alert, all too soon.
Not before Rogers follows instructions to play a sternly delivered recording that declares all of them to have a wicked past and a secret destined to seal their fate, each being marked for murder.
As the weather turns thunderous, cutting the island rock off from the mainland, let the bloodbath begin, the toy soldiers disappearing one by one with each murder, in accordance with the lines of a sinister nursery rhyme on display above the mantelpiece.
Andrew Roberts has a cameo, West Country accent and all as Fred Narracott, delivering the guests to the island, before re-emerging as spiffing, fast-living, flippant Anthony Marston. Florence Poskitt’s outwardly level-headed but on-edge Vera Claythorne is welcoming guests on the Owens’ behalf; Mike Hickman’s devil-may-care Captain Philip Lombard likes to be seen keeping spirits up and his spirit intake up even higher.
Andrew Isherwood soon sheds the dodgy accent of his cover as a wealthy South African, Davis, to be revealed as retired Detective William Henry Blore.
Ian Giles’s old boy, General MacKenzie, appears to be losing his marbles; Jessica Murray’s disapproving religious zealot Emily Brent knits feverishly, and Mark Simmonds’ Dr Armstrong is as earnest as brown bread.
Rory Mulvihill’s Sir Lawrence Wargrave is wont to dominate, a judge by profession, with a permanent black-cap countenance and a voice that commands the stage and those around him alike.
Isherwood’s direction skilfully steers a path through dark humour, heightened tensions and chilling revelations, capturing Christie’s scathing dismissal of so many restrictive institutions, and his cast applies both light and increasing shade.
Hickman’s mysterious Lombard is particularly good at keeping up a front; Poskitt may be associated with wide-eyed, squishy faced comedy but here delves into disturbing inner turmoil, a revelation that affirms she should not be pigeonholed.
Mulvihill, latterly flourishing in diverse roles beyond his musical theatre leading-man prowess, is in terrific form once more, his grave Wargrave judging everyone to damnation.
Will Nicholson and Adam Coggin’s lighting blends in just right with each scene’s tone and Readman’s scenery in Isherwood’s engrossing production that benefits from one other Readman decision: replacing the play’s happier ending with the novel’s original darker denouement, with permission from the Christie estate. Right again, Robert.
Performances: 7.30pm nightly, plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
AND then there were ten as Charles Hutchinson picks his cultural highlights, from Christie mystery to prints aplenty, Wax words to science explosions, extinction fears to singers’ farewells.
Thriller of the week: Pick Me Up Theatre in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, running until September 30, 7.30pm (except tomorrow and Monday); 2.30pm, today, tomorrow and next Saturday
TEN strangers are summoned to a remote island. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they are unwilling to reveal and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder.
As the weather turns and the group is cut off from the mainland, the bloodbath begins and one by one they are brutally murdered in accordance with the lines of a sinister nursery rhyme in Agatha Christie’s murder mystery, directed for York company Pick Me Up Theatre by Andrew Isherwood, who will play retired Inspector William Blore too. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Print deadline: York Printmakers Autumn Fair, York Cemetery Chapel and Harriet Room, today and tomorrow, 10am to 5pm
IN its sixth year, the York Printmakers Autumn Fair features work by 26 members exhibiting and selling hand-printed original prints, including Russell Hughes, Rachel Holborow, Michelle Hughes, Harriette Rymer and Jo Rodwell.
On display will be a variety of printmaking techniques, such as linocut, collagraphs, woodcut, screen printing, stencilling and etching. Artists will be on hand to discuss their working methods and to show the blocks, plates and tools they use.
Seriously silly: Phil Wang, Wang In There, Baby!, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm
AFTER his Netflix special, David Letterman appearance, role in Life & Beth with Amy Schumer and debut book Sidesplitter, PhilWang discusses race, family, nipples and everything else going on in his Philly little life in his latest stand-up show, Wang In There, Baby! Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Gig of the week outside York: Cinder Well, The Band Room, Low Mill, Farndale, North York Moors, tonight, 7.30pm
CINDER Well, multi-instrumentalist Amelia Baker’s experimental American roots project, showcases her mysterious April 2023 album, Cadence.
The title refers to the cycles of our turbulent lives, to the uncertain tides that push us forward and back, as Cadence drifts between two far-flung seas: the hazy California coast where Baker grew up and the wind-torn swells of County Clare, western Ireland, that she has come to love. Box office: thebandroom.co.uk.
Explosive children’s show of the week: Ministry of Science Live in Science Saved The World, Grand Opera House, York, tomorrow, 12.30pm and 4pm
MINISTRY of Science take an anarchic approach to science communication, looking at the scientists, engineers and inventors who have shaped the modern world, while proving that each and every one of us has the ability to change our world for the better.
Expect 20ft liquid nitrogen clouds, exploding oxygen and hydrogen balloons, fire tornados, hydrogen bottle rockets, ignitedmethaneand even a self-built Hovercraft. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Play of the week: A Play For The Living In A Time Of Extinction, York Theatre Royal, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee
DIRECTED for York Theatre Royal by Mingyu Lin, Miranda Rose Hall’s play heads out on a life-changing journey to confront the urgent ecological disaster unfolding around us. Part ritual, part battle cry, this “fiercely feminist off-grid” one-woman show offers a moving evaluation of what it means to be human in an era of man-made extinction.
Leeds actress Stephanie Hutchinson will be joined at each performance by eight cyclists, who will ride specially adapted bicycles to power the electricity required for lighting and sound. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Waxing lyrical: Ruby Wax: I’m Not As Well As I Thought, York Alive festival, Grand Opera House, York, Thursday, 7.30pm
IN 2022, American-British actress, comedian, writer, television personality and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax, 70, began a search to find meaning, booking a series of potentially life-changing journeys. Even greater change marked her inner journey, as charted in her book I’m Not As Well As I Thought and now in her “rawest, darkest, funniest show yet”. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Nostalgia of the week…for the last time: Maximum Rhythm’n’Blues with The Manfreds, Grand Opera House, York, Friday
JOIN legendary pioneers of Sixties’ British rhythm & blues The Manfreds as they celebrate 60 years in the business. Vocalists Paul Jones, 81, and Mike D’Abo, 79, are touring together for the final time, alongside long-standing members Tom McGuinness, Rob Townsend, Marcus Cliffe and Simon Currie, to rejoice in Do Wah Diddy Diddy, If You Gotta Go, Go Now, Pretty Flamingo, My Name Is Jack and Mighty Quinn. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Dance at the treble: Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company, Art Of Believing Special Edition, National Centre for Early Music, York, October 1, 3.30pm, 6pm and 8.30pm
LAST at the NCEM in November 2022, the Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company returns to York for three performances in one day of Art Of Believing, a 90-minute show suffused with emotion, passion and grit.
Works from Martinez’s Herald Angel Award-winning production Art Of Believing will be complemented by previously unseen pieces performed by musicians, singers and dancer Gabriela Pouso. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Looking ahead: Kenny Thomas, Him 2024 Tour, Grand Opera House, York, May 19 2024
ISLINGTON soul singer-songwriter Kenny Thomas will front his all-star band in York on his nine-leg British tour next spring, showcasing songs from his “lost” third album, the never-commercially-released Him, alongside his greatest hits.
“Over three decades on from when I first started out, this tour demonstrates that soul music is here to stay,” says Thomas, 55, whose Best Of compilation will be out on November 3. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
In Focus: Stephanie Hutchinson on starring in a one-woman show for the first time in A Play For The Living In A Time Of Extinction
STEPHANIE Hutchinson had never imagined she would do a one-woman show.
Come Wednesday, however, the Leeds actress will be giving her solo turn for five performances in “a bold experiment in eco theatre-making” and a “fiercely feminist off-grid production” at York Theatre Royal.
The title, A Play For The Living In A Time Of Extinction, is an indication that this Headlong, London Barbican and York Theatre Royal co-production will be unlike anything you have seen before.
Hands up anyone who has witnessed a stage production powered by bicycles. Only The HandleBards on their open-air Shakespeare travels come to mind.
Strictly speaking, Stephanie will not be on her own. Eight cyclists per performance will be pedalling away to power lights and microphones, while the York Theatre Royal Choir will be participating too.
After a Barbican run, Miranda Rose Hall’s play is on a zero-travel tour using an eco-friendly blueprint. The rest of the production, from local actor to cyclists, is provided by the theatre hosting the show, culminating in York next week.
Stephanie sees it as a co-operative production, not only a one-woman show. “I’ve not seen A Play For The Living but heard a lot about it,” she says.
Her character, a dramaturg called Naomi, pressed into impromptu service as an actress, is fearful of death but is determined to confront fears about an impending ecological disaster.
“What caught my eye was just how sustainable the production is,” she says. “Naomi is described as a woman in her 20s who is scared of dying. She’s already had to go on stage and act in front of people. She’s confronted that fear. Now she’s facing her fear of dying and wants to have a conversation about it.
“I like how interactive it is. It’s not just me, not just a verbal splurge. She wants to know what others are thinking. I don’t want the audience to feel they’re just being talked at.”
Despite the subject, A Play For The Living is not all gloom and doom, emphasies Stephanie. There are funny moments. Gloomy and funny is her hope for the experience.
“I don’t think it’s just a message play,” she says. “Naomi’s having a conversation, making the audience aware of what she’s found during her research. It’s also like an ode to the Earth as well because the Earth has given us so much but in return we’re not treating it back very well. It’s almost like she’s blessing the Earth and thanking it. But we do need to be careful – if we keep going the way we’re going, future generations might not have it.”
Stephanie was last seen on York Theatre Royal’s main stage in Green Hammerton company Badapple Theatre’s Elephant Rock during the TakeOver season in May 2022. Her other credits include Shake The City, based around the clothworkers’ strike in Leeds in 1970, staged at both Leeds Playhouse and Jermyn Street Theatre in London.
All this is something of a surprise for Stephanie who did not nurse acting ambitions from a young age. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was a teenager. Then when I was 15, 16, I was going to theatre classes where you’d do singing, dancing, acting and I was like, ‘I quite actually like this – can I do it at uni or go to a drama school?’.
“So, at 18, I went to Salford University and graduated with a BA (Hons) Performing Arts. I’ve managed to carry it on, although I’m not quite sure how I’ve done that. My ambition is just to keep on going because I can’t really see myself doing anything else. Even in my day job, I do role play and that’s acting on the side. Acting is getting paid for doing what I love.
“I thought I would never do a one-person show. I am feeling very happy where I am at the moment. Very happy.”
NO productions of Agatha Christie’s house party thriller And Then There Were None in York for ages, but suddenly, like buses…and then there were two.
Andrew Isherwood’s film noir-style nail-biter for York company Pick Me Up Theatre opens at Theatre@41, Monkgate, on Friday, to be followed by Lucy Bailey’s 21st reinvention on tour at the Grand Opera House from November 21 to 25.
In Christie’s murder mystery, Europe is teetering on the brink of war when eight strangers receive an intriguing invitation to a posh house party on Soldier Island, an isolated rock near the Devon coast.
These house guests are to be met by the butler and his housekeeper wife…And Then There Were Ten, but not for long.
All have a wicked past they are unwilling to reveal and a secret destined to seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. As the weather turns, the bloodbath begins and one by one they are brutally murdered in accordance with the lines of a sinister nursery rhyme.
More on Bailey’s touring show for Fiery Angel, ROYO and the Royal & Derngate, Northampton, in November, but first the focus falls on Andrew Isherwood picking up the directorial reins for Pick Me Up for the first time, as well as playing one of the suspects already cast by producer Robert Readman, who had acquired the rights for Christie’s play ahead of the touring production incidentally.
“It’s a fantastic play,” says Andrew. “Having acted for more than ten years now, I’ve been wanting to spread my wings a little, and when this play came up, I jumped at the chance to give it a shot with a fairly sizeable cast for a piece that’s very dialogue heavy.
“Bringing together some of the best actors we have in York, it was too good an opportunity to miss. For the audience, can I find a tone and a pace to the show that keeps people engaged and involved from beginning to end?”
To do so, combining directing and acting has been challenging. “That’s for sure,” says Andrew. “To switch between performance and honing the performances of the cast, working on the fine details. I’ve focused a lot on developing as a director while maintaining committed to my role. It’s a fine balance.”
He will play retired Inspector William Henry Blore, who should know his way around a crime scene and be a dependable chap in a crisis, but when the killing starts, is this former copper the bookies’ best bet for whodunit?
“I really enjoy the duality and complexity of Blore’s character,” says Andrew. “Having the opportunity to play a character who presents himself as one thing and reveals himself to be another. To play a character within a character as it were. It’s something I’ve not done before, which is always attractive.”
Christie’s abiding popularity, on stage, screen and page, is no mystery to Andrew. “She’s a British icon; her name has instant brand recognition as it were,” he says. “Even if you’ve never even read or seen an Agatha Christie, you know she’s synonymous with intrigue, mystery and drama. I think the success of Poirot, in particular, has permeated our culture in such a way that associates itself with class and quality.”
Why are the British so fascinated by murder, mystery and death, Andrew? “It’s irresistible. The search for answers. The need to know. The intrigue, The darkness of man’s soul. The exploration of the darker side that’s quite seductive. It’s important to have some mystery to life,” he says.
Joining Isherwood’s Blore in Pick Me Up’s cast will be Flo Poskitt’s Vera Claythorne; Mike Hickman’s Philip Lombard; Rory Mulvihill’s Sir Lawrence Wargrave; husband and wife Martyn and Jeannette Hunter’s butler Rogers and housekeeper wife Mrs Rogers; Andrew Roberts’s Anthony Marston; Ian Giles’s General John MacKenzie; Mark Simmonds’s Dr Edward Armstrong and Jess Murray’s Emily Brent.
Such familiar faces from the York stage scene recalls the old days of repertory theatre, enjoying seeing regulars in new roles. “I’ve certainly been very lucky and blessed to have such a fantastic cast. A lot of known and returning faces gives the sense that this is a company of experienced hands,” says Andrew.
“Directing this production has been such a wonderful experience because I know the roles will be brought so brilliantly to life. It’s certainly a good feeling to know that each scene is in the hands of compelling and experienced actors, and I’ve really enjoyed working with each of them, developing, finding new folds and creases to their characters.”
Producer Readman’s set design will play its part in the thrills and spills. “Robert has designed a fabulous set using levels and lighting to create mood and atmosphere. The design is created to reflect the shape of the island itself, and the lighting will be very evocative and in the style of film noir to fully immerse our audience in this world,” says Andrew.
In this autumn of And There Were None at the double, he is “glad we’re getting in there first”. “It certainly becomes a part of professional pride that if you come to see our version, we’ll be every bit as good as you would expect from the Opera House show. I’ve felt for a long time that the line between what you would consider an ‘amateur’ show versus a ‘professional’ show is a fine one,” says Andrew.
“Definitely in the shows I’ve been involved with. From Robert Readman’s set to the costumes and the quality of the performances, it’s every bit as good as you would see in London. So come join us on the island!”
Pick Me Up Theatre in Agatha Christie’s And Then There None, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, September 22 to 30. Performances: 7.30pm, September 22, 23, 26 to 30; 2.30pm, September 23, 24 and 30. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Copyright of The Press, York
And then there were two
IN Lucy Bailey’s “bold and exciting” 21st reinvention of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, ten strangers are lured to a solitary mansion off the coast of Devon. When a terrible storm cuts them off from the mainland, and with their hosts mysteriously absent, the true reason for their presence on the island becomes horribly clear, as secrets from their past come back to haunt each and every one of them.
Confirmed in the cast for the York-bound Fiery Angel, ROYO and Royal & Derngate, Northampton touring production are Bob Barrett as Dr Edward Armstrong; Joseph Beattie as Philip Lombard; Oliver Clayton as Anthony Marston; Jeffery Kissoon as General John MacKenzie and Andrew Lancel as retired Inspector William Blore.
So too are Nicola May-Taylor as Jane Pinchbeck; Katy Stephens as Emily Brent; Lucy Tregear as Georgina Rogers; Sophie Walter as Vera Claythorne; Matt Weyland as Narracott/Understudy and David Yelland as Judge Wargrave. Louise McNulty will be on understudy duty.
Lucy Bailey has previous form for Christie productions, having directed Witness For The Prosecution, now in its sixth year, as well as Frederick Knott’s Dial M For Murder, Baby Doll, Titus Andronicus and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
She is joined in the production team by UK Theatre Award-winning set and costume designer Mike Britton, lighting designer Chris Davey, sound designer and composer Elizabeth Purnell, fight director Renny Krupinski and movement director by Ayse Tashkiran.
Fiery Angel, ROYO and Royal & Derngate, Northampton, present And Then There Were None at Grand Opera House, York, November 21 to 25, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Box office: atgtickets.com/york. Did you know?
AND Then There Were None is 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.
1939. Europe teeters on the brink of war. Eight strangers receive an intriguing invitation to a posh house party on Soldier Island, an isolated rock near the Devon coast.
These house guests are to be met by the butler and his housekeeper wife…And Then There Were Ten, but not for long.
So begins Agartha Christie’s groundbreaking whodunit And Then There Were None, to be staged by York company Pick Me Up Theatre under Andrew Isherwood’s direction at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, from September 22 to 30.
What the guests have in common is a wicked past that they are unwilling to reveal and a secret destined to seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. As the weather turns, the bloodbath begins and one by one they are brutally murdered in accordance with the lines of a sinister nursery rhyme.
“Cut off from the mainland, they are each accused of a terrible crime. When one of the party dies suddenly, they realise they may be harbouring a murderer among their number,” says producer Robert Readman. “The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but also is preparing to strike again… and again.”
Director Isherwood will be among Pick Me Up’s “fabulous cast of the county’s finest”, playing William Blore alongside Flo Poskitt’s Vera Claythorne; Mike Hickman’s Philip Lombard; Rory Mulvihill’s Sir Lawrence Wargrave; husband and wife Martyn and Jeannette Hunter’s butler Rogers and housekeeper wife Mrs Rogers; Andrew Roberts’s Anthony Marston; Ian Giles’s General John MacKenzie; Mark Simmonds’s Dr Edward Armstrong and Jess Murray’s Emily Brent.
Pick Me Up’s Facebook page is introducing Christie’s “motley characters” one by one in an on-going series. First up: meet Rory Mulvihill’s judge, Sir Lawrence Wargrave. “The Judge…you wouldn’t want to cross him,” forewarns Readman’s profile notes.
“Recently retired, he is intelligent, cold and commanding. During his years on the bench, he had a reputation as a ‘hanging judge’ – a judge who persuaded juries to bring back guilty verdicts and sentenced many convicted criminals to death. He should be right at home then.”
Next meet Jeanette Hunter’s Mrs Rogers. “She is the housekeeper in a big posh mansion where eight perfect strangers have been invited to spend the weekend by an unknown host. She is rather timid, has a dominating husband and she tells us she’s ‘always left to do the dirty work’,” says Readman.
“And there’s plenty of it in And Then There Were None but take nothing at face value in this twisty tale of murder and revenge! Jeanette’s character might not be all she seems.”
Step forward dodgy character number three: Jess Murray’s Emily Brent. “She is a ruthlessly religious woman who reads her Bible every day,” says Readman. “She might devour the good book – but her actions are anything but Christian. And she knits – like those ghouls from the guillotine!”
Next up: Mike Hickman’s Philip Lombard. “A mysterious, confident and cunning man, we think he was maybe a mercenary soldier in Africa? Anyway, it looks like Mike Hickman isn’t about to take any prisoners in this role…Could he be the guilty one?” ponders Robert.
Who’s next? “Here comes Thomas Rogers…A respectable and reliable butler. Or is he? Don’t you think he looks a bit shifty? And Martin Hunter plays the part perfectly. Come and find out if he dunnit in Agatha Christie’s corking murder mystery,” says Robert.
How about Ian Giles’s General John Gordon Mackenzie? “He’s an upstanding military man – or is he?” asks Robert. “One of eight seemingly random guests invited to a mysterious house party in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, how could anyone think our Ian Giles could be the one wot dunnit?”
Who is Andrew Roberts playing? “This handsome devil (see below) is Anthony Marston: a rich, swanky guy who likes fast cars and fast living,” says Robert. “He seems to have no conscience but is he a murderer?”
Back in York after an Edinburgh Fringe run in York musical comedy duo Fladam’s children’s show Green Fingers, Flo Poskitt takes the role of former governess Vera Claythorne, who comes to Soldier Island as secretary to fellow guest Mrs Owen.
“Flo’s Vera is clever and capable, but she is also super-nervy and suffers from attacks of hysteria, so don’t cross her off the murderer suspect list just yet,” says Robert.
“Don’t trust him – even though he’s a doctor,” he forewarns of any encounter with Mark Simmonds’s Dr Edward Armstrong. “The other seven guests certainly don’t. In fact Armstrong is high up the suspect list because – well, he knows media stuff, doesn’t he?! He could easily bump someone off (if he wasn’t always yearning after a large glass of scotch).
“So, is Mark Simmonds our man in And Then There Were None? If you’ve read Agatha Crhsistie’s book or seen the films, no spoilers please!”
And now there are ten
INTRODCING retired Inspector William Henry Blore, director Andrew Isherwood ‘s on-stage contribution to And Then There Were None.
“He should know his way around a crime scene and be a dependable chap in a crisis – like the one ten strangers find themselves facing at a weird house party in Christie’s nail-biter,” says Robert. “But really…when the killing starts – is the former policeman your best hope?”
Ten Little Soldiers: the back story of a sinister nursery rhyme
THIS epigraph appears at the start of Agatha Christie’s 1939 murder mystery novel, And Then There Were None, foretelling the ten deaths (spoiler alert!) that will occur on Soldier Island.
Ten Little Soldier Boys went out to Dine, one choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine Little Soldier Boys stayed up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight Little Soldier Boys travelling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven Little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six Little Soldier Boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five Little Soldier Boys going through a door; One stubbed his toe and then there were four.
Four Little Soldier Boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three Little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two Little Soldier Boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was One.
One Little Soldier Boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were none.
Did you know?
THE island and Art Deco hotel of the same name that inspired Agatha Christie to write both And Then There Were None and the Hercule Poirot mystery Evil Under The Sun are for sale at £15 million: namely Burgh Island, off the south Devon coast. The sale includes Christie’s beach house, where she wrote, on the cliff edge.
Pick Me Up Theatre in And Then There Were None, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, September 22 to 30. Performances: 7.30pm, September 22, 23, 26 to 30; 2.30pm, September 23, 24 and 30. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk. Recommended age: eight plus.