© 2018 by Brian EG Cook

director's concept

I wanted the world of And Then There Were None to feel byzantine and labyrinthine. The characters describe the strange man that built the house in a fit of a love for a woman who wasn't interested. Its modernity and quirkiness clearly appealed to the maladjusted mind that devised the elaborate trap that is sprung during the play. Though we see only one room, there are multiple exits and directions (stairs, hallways, doors) that go off into unseen locations. As the characters arrive, they each wander off and show their curiosity about the house and how it is laid out. Since the Mainstage Theatre is a permament thrust, the scene designer closed off one of the three audience sections, which became part of the set and allowed us to use one of the audience staircases. This expanded the "house" to the size of the theatre house, bringing the audience into the room with the actors.

Another conceptual idea was borne from the research work that lead actress Lisa-Marie Castro did for her honors thesis, "The Delicate Murderess Portrayed by Society: An Analysis of Vera Claythorne Within Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None." Part of her research work involved looking at the working lives of women in the early 20th century, and I came to see the possibility of recasting two of the main characters (Blore and Dr. Armstrong) as women. Everything about Blore is deceptive at first, he puts on a fake accent, he wears strange, unsuitable clothing, and he goes by a fake name. We went one step further: he was also only pretending to be a man. When the character discloses that he's a detective in the play, he also revealed that he wasn't a man at all. Making Dr. Armstrong into a woman required almost no effort. In both cases, the largest impact was the sexism displayed by most of the (formerly) male characters at the end when Vera is the only woman left alive. This was another aspect of Lisa-Marie's thesis investigation. Changing the gender of those two characters changed the gender dynamic in the play: in Act III, there were now more women left than men. 

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