Formed by John King and Eliot Walker in 2008, Regent Rep is the production company of the Regent Centre, creating an opportunity for the very best talent in the thriving local amateur theatre scene to get involved with a range of productions. It has fulfilled its objectives wholly in this production of the famous Agatha Christie novel. An excellent set, superb lighting effects and timely sounds ensure that the audience is captivated with the plot from the very opening line and although many of us will have read the book and watched both theatre and film adaptations, along with many of the audience I jumped at the sounds of gunshots and reacted with shock to the unfolding plot.
The casting cleverly introduces both familiar faces and new, allowing character development to unfold as they meet for the first time in the drawing room of the fated property on an island. Without revealing the plot, just in case there is anyone reading this who doesn’t know the story, suffice it to say that although cast members leave the stage with alarming regularity throughout the three acts, I felt that each individual character’s presence remained both with the audience and with the remaining cast – gone but not forgotten.
The ten members of the cast are expertly directed by Jackie Brocklesby, who ensures that they did not mimic or mock professional actors from previous productions, each remaining true to the original characterisations of the book. Cast members cohesively support each other as the intricacies of the plot develop. David Gillard as General Mackenzie expertly commands the attention of the audience as he may well have done his troops, while Dr Armstrong (Nick Guy) treats us as potential psychiatric patients while past medical misdemeanours haunt him. Philip Lombard (Tim Wallace-Abbot), rarely off stage, provides energy and a romantic dalliance in the gathering doom, as he pursues Vera Claythorne (Clare Rhodes) enthusiastically around the set.
Making his splendid acting debut as Anthony Marston, Luke Solari De Moody encaptures the suave, sophisticated arrogance of privileged youth as he confidently strides on stage having just stepped out of his racy sports car; hopefully the acting bug will have bitten. Ghosts, spirits or simply guilty memories haunt the characters as revelations unfold with no one individual seemingly without fault.
The programme reveals that one cast member, as a young fan of fourteen years old, wrote to Agatha Christie, telling her that they had all her books and asking her to bring back Poirot’s friend, Captain Hastings. Her delightful reply is printed in the programme.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this wonderful production; it deserves full houses for the rest of the run: 20 October at 7.30 and 21 October at 2.30 and 7.30.