NEW LEBANON, N.Y. -- Few plays are as critic proof as a good murder-mystery and few murder-mysteries are as critic proof as Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None," this summer's annual Dame Agatha offering at The Theater Barn.
For the record, then, director Allen E. Phelps' production is a middling affair, at best. But a dandy story is a dandy story, no matter who's telling it, and "And Then There Were None," also known as "Ten Little Indians," is a dandy story, no matter how many times you've seen it.
This one is about a group of people -- eight guests and a butler and his cook-wife -- who have been lured to an island off the coast of Devon, England by a mysterious couple whom none of the guests or staff has ever met or seen. The guests soon discover they have been cut off from the mainland. Over introductory cocktails, one of them notices the old nursery rhyme, "Ten Little Indians," mounted on the wall over the fireplace and 10 figurines grouped beneath it. Suddenly, a deep, menacing recorded voice welcomes them and, with chilling foreboding, accuses each of the 10 with having gotten away with some crime. And then, one by one, they are each dispatched according to the verses in the rhyme, until ...
Skylar Saltz and Steve Triebes (on far more solid ground here than he was in the season-opening "The 39 Steps") make an attractive pair as, respectively, a secretary hired by the mysterious host couple to oversee the weekend and an ex-military officer who may or may not have abandoned his men.
The rest of the hard-working cast performs with varying degrees of credibility, affecting English accents, also with varying degrees of credibility.
Like the performances, the staging is often forced and awkward. Overall, Phelps' production misses the buoyancy and style Christie's material so richly deserves and which the Theater Barn's Christies have delivered on other occasions. Ah, well!
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie. Directed by Allen E. Phelps; set design, Abe Phelps; costume designer, Alyssa Couturier; lighting design, Allen E. Phelps. Through Sunday. Eves.: Thu.-Sat. 8. Mats.: Sat. 4; Sun. 2. The Theater Barn, Route 20, New Lebanon, N.Y. Tickets: $24, $22. (518) 794-8989. 2 hours 21 minutes Lombard Steve Triebes
Vera Skylar Saltz
Rogers Dominick Varney
Mrs. Rogers Katie Clark
Marston Ben Katagari
Blore Aaron S. Holbritter
General MacKenzie Sky Vogel
Emily Brent Meg Dooley
Wargrave John M. Trainor
Dr. Armstrong Shaun Rice
Narracot Mark Pearson