Take a group of seemingly unconnected individuals, throw them together in an unfamiliar isolated place, leave them to their own devices and you know it’s going to be trouble.
While that might sound like the latest series of I’m A Celebrity.... it is in fact the premise for the excellent Agatha Christie thriller And Then There Were None, which opened at Peterborough’s Broadway Theatre on Monday.
The unassuming guests are assembled for a stay in a mansion on a remote island, and after introductions soon realise none of them actually know the absent “host”.
A chilling message from a gramaphone record - which appears to suggest each has a skeleton they would prefer stayed in the closet - gets the suspense growing nicely and the first act ends dramatically - a rhyme which plots the downfall of the “10 little soldiers” and the first death - upperclass young twit Anthony Marston (Tom McCarron) is poisoned.
The tension grows as the remaining group face the startling revelation that not only is there a killer in their midst... they are standing in the same rooom. And as each meets their maker in a manner inkeeping with the rhyme, it is terrifyingly clear no one is safe
It is a classic, gripping whodunnit, slickly executed by the stellar cast as the wild and inaccurate accusations fly and their past lives are laid bare.
There are also some great moments of humour too - I particularly liked the untimely “death” of General Mackenzie (Eric Carte), who it turns out has merely dropped off, and the death off stage of William Blore (Colin Buchanan) in a booby trap.
The set is wonderful - a huge wood pannelled drawing room with doors opening out to the sea - and the lighting at times - the candlelit nightime secene in particular - is stunning adding beautifully to the clautraphobic feel of the piece.
Neil Stacy as interregator-in-chief Sir Lawrence Wargrave gives a commanding performance, Deborah Grant is excellent as the opinionated Bible-bashing Emily Brent and Ben Nealon is bullish as the cocky Philip Lombard for who “another drink” is the answer.
And Kezia Burrows leaves a lasting impression as Vera Claythorne - the young, pretty, butter-wouldn’t-melt secretary. Could she possibly be a killer? Don’t discount anyone as the drama increases and spiralls to an unforgettable end.
See And Then There Were None at the Broadway Theatre until Saturday. Contact the box office on 01733 822225 or visit www.thebroadwaypeterborough.co.uk