The Northampton Area High School Theatre Company brought Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel to life on stage. For two nights only, on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9, the theatre troupe turned the high school auditorium into Solder Island, the remote island mansion at the heart of Christie’s novel. There, ten strangers gather for what they think is a short getaway. Soon, it becomes evident that there are darker powers at play.
The guests on the island include judge Justice Wargrave (played by Lauren Lalik), secretary Vera Claythorne (played by Ericka Csencsits), soldier Philip Lombard (played by Andrew Van Antwerp), detective William Blore (played by Madelyn Rex), Dr. Armstrong (played by Cade Kocher), butler Mr. Rogers (played by Shawn-Tyler Laub), spinster Emily Brent (played by Molly Wiesner), General Mackenzie (played by Cole Kiefer), maid Mrs. Rogers (played by Shelby Wandler), and reckless adventurer Anthony Marston (played by Anna Svolos). Colin Finney plays Fred Narracott, the fisherman taking the guests to the island.
All of the characters are really caricatures of men and women seen in typical mystery pieces. It was something director Gianna Neal knew would be new for students. She said they excelled on stage.
“Even though these characters are very unusual and different than the students themselves, they have embodied these crazy personalities and have made them their own,” she said in her director’s notes.
During the guests’ first evening, their fun is interrupted by a mysterious voice, accusing them of causing the death of friends, family, and strangers. Now, they must each pay for the harm they have caused.
One-by-one, the guests mysteriously meet their deadly fates, with the nursery rhyme “Ten Little Soldiers” serving as a blueprint of who will come next.
The guests turn against each other, knowing that one of them must be the murderer.
The play is, according to Neal, “extremely dark, creepy, and dramatic.” However, there is still humor found throughout the production, from the nagging Emily Brent to the flirtatious Philip Lombard.
Readers familiar with the novel would have noticed a few differences, including a unique gender bent take on Justice Wargrave and an ending that shocked even fans of the novel.
The theatre company will return to the stage in a much lighter production this spring, performing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella from March 19 until March 22.