A classic whodunit

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By Irene Zaugg

Unsuspecting guests stranded on an island with no hope for escape, a wickedly creative killer on the loose and a disembodied voice from the study — Agatha Christie’s timeless skill for murder mysteries is on stage in the Los Alamos Little Theater’s “And Then There Were None.”
Dennis Powell returns to directing one of Christie’s plays, this time with a large cast of characters, each with his or her own mysterious past and a motive for murder.
The setting for this charming little mystery is the drawing room of a well-furnished manor, but the twist is that the 10 characters invited there for a weekend getaway find themselves completely stranded with no hope of rescue. Add to the mix a mysterious voice, a lethal nursery rhyme and the bodies (and suspects) start piling up.
A large part of the 12-person cast is relatively new or recent newcomers to the stage, though some old favorites return as well, and each character has a wonderfully distinct persona, as could only be expected from one of Christie’s works.
The cast of characters include the stern, old fashioned lady (Tami Martinson as Emily Brent), a foppish young man-about-town (Conner Schultz as Anthony Marston), and even the inevitable butler and his wife (Michael Adkins and Christine Fischahs as Mr. and Mrs. Rogers).
Those are only a few, but it is quickly revealed that each of the ten weekend guests have skeletons in their closets. When a disembodied voice and a terrified scream interrupt the party, the question is: who is guilty enough to commit murder?
As a storm builds over the island, cutting off any means of rescue, the weekenders must try to solve the mystery before the next victim, and Christie has given the audience an eerie clue about the killer’s intentions. Of course, it is impossible to describe any part of the plot without giving away something critical, so it will have to be up to the audience members to spot the clues themselves.
The play is set very consciously in the 1930’s, with all of the accoutrements of the British upper class, including a much-used sideboard, the Irish nursery rhyme hanging on the wall, and the necessary ashtrays scattered throughout the set.
The colorful characterizations alone make this a fun, tightly woven story, and with 10 possible victims (or, possibly, murderers), the story moves along rapidly all the way to the final revelation. Fans of classic “whodunits” will have all the suspects and clues they would like, and newcomers to stage murder mysteries will surely enjoy watching the clues unfold.
“And Then There Were None” is directed by Dennis Powell and produced by Kate Ramsey at the Los Alamos Performing Arts Center at 1670 Nectar St. Performances continue every Friday and Saturday until Nov. 22.
Tickets are $14 for general admission and $12 for students and seniors, and can be purchased at CB Fox, online at BrownPaperTickets.com, or at the door.