Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None' Hits China

By Billy Jiang, July 4, 2024

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For fans of detective shows and the legendary works of Agatha Christie, a new theatrical adaptation of 'And Then There Were None' is set to captivate audiences with its thrilling mystery and intricate plot.

Known for her masterful storytelling, Agatha Christie's classic whodunit promises suspense, intrigue, and unexpected twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

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This highly anticipated stage play, directed by the acclaimed Lucy Bailey, is making its debut in China for the first time.

The production has already mesmerized audiences with its atmospheric set, stellar performances, and a plot that faithfully brings Christie’s gripping tale to life.

As the story unfolds, audiences can expect to be transported to Soldier Island, where ten strangers grapple with their darkest secrets and the specter of justice.

At That's Guangzhou, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Victoria Gartner, the assistant director of this thrilling production, who offers exclusive insights into what makes this adaptation unique and how it has been tailored to resonate with Chinese audiences.

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The book has been adapted for screen and stage many times. What can audiences expect from this particular production that sets it apart from other adaptations and the original novel?

The book is Lucy Bailey’s favourite Agatha Christie, and she has been thinking about it for a long time.

She wanted to convey the isolating feeling of the island, the rawness and wildness humans can access when they are thrust into a primal setting and in a life-or-death situation.

While Agatha Christie has always been fascinated by liars, Lucy Bailey wanted to explore the guilt people must feel when taking a human life, and how that changes you and permeates your reality.

The story is set in 1939 in a world on the brink of the Second World War, just as we are on the brink of ecological disaster. It speaks to us of a desperate reality.

What is the most exciting part of the play, and will the show reveal the murderer in a way that is different from other adaptations?

The ending is definitely the most exciting part for audiences – which, in our version, is as shocking as the book’s!

This alone sets the production apart from others. I don’t want to say much more… you’ll have to come and watch.

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How do you think the Chinese audience will respond to this production, especially considering cultural differences?

We have already been touring for 6 weeks across China, and it has been incredible to witness how well audiences have responded to the play.

People everywhere are really appreciative, but they also get to laugh and jump out of their seats.

Even if you do not speak English, I believe you can enjoy this very atmospheric and epic show.

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How does Lucy Bailey’s directorial approach enhance the suspense and drama in 'And Then There Were None?'

Lucy Bailey is an incredible storyteller.

From her work on the set’s concept with designer Mike Britton to the way she makes the energy and tension between characters jump out in rehearsals, she is a force of nature and is guaranteed to take you on a rollercoaster.

She has an amazing sense of rhythm – it is sometimes almost like working with a composer.

She also establishes so much trust between the actors and everyone in the room – it is a joy to be involved in any of her work.

Joseph Beattie and Jeffery Kissoon are part of the main cast. How do their performances bring unique dimensions to the characters they portray?

Both Joseph and Jeffery have been part of the cast of the UK tour.

They each have unique approaches to their characters.

Jeffery has a wealth of experiences to draw from, and has done extensive research on General Mackenzie – he was able to be inspired by a real Black general that was active during the Second World War.

He fully embodies the character he portrays, and makes it alive each performance. And I particularly enjoy witnessing his pre-show ritual, which involves a different warm-up every time and a well-timed cup of coffee.

Joseph is a very good casting for Captain Lombard, as he is very believable as an adventurer and a man of action, but is also able to truthfully portray the softer sides of the character.

We understand why Vera falls in love with him! I always find their story, and tragedy, very poignant.

Can you describe the challenges and rewards of transporting an entire production from the UK to China, including sets, costumes, and props?

Because theatres in China are so vast, we have had to design a bigger set and completely rebuild it in China. 

I am in awe of our incredible technical team who, with the help of Chinese theatre crews, take the whole 'box' down and put it up again every week in a different venue. 

We travel with everything, from the floor to all the lighting equipment, and it takes a small very well-organised army to make that happen smoothly. 

We did bring our costumes and some props from the UK, including our impressive life-size black bear carpet – nicknamed 'Brenda.' 

She has her own suitcase and it gives me great pleasure to imagine the surprise of the security staff when they pass her through a scanner every week!

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Given the popularity of 'And Then There Were None' in China, what special preparations or adaptations, if any, were made for this tour to cater to Chinese audiences?

We really wanted to bring the most authentic British version of the piece to China.

It is very different to what Chinese audiences are used to, but I think that is a good thing.

After all, the beauty of a cultural exchange is to be surprised and to experience something new, to broaden your horizons.

It was important for us, for Lucy, to treat and compose this piece as she does everything else – with precision, passion and by really ‘holding the mirror up to nature,’ as Shakespeare would put it. Chinese audiences get to see the same quality show as they would if they flew to London!

What do you hope both seasoned theatergoers and first-time audience members take away from this production of 'And Then There Were None?'

I hope they will enjoy a dramatic story with a classic Agatha Christie plot twist, some incredible acting from truly exceptional actors, haunting visual images of Soldier Island, and some shocking surprises – why else come to the theatre?

But I also hope people go away thinking about what happens when humans do not trust each other.

When put in an impossible situation, we can all easily decide to fend for ourselves.

But if more people trusted each other, were honest with each other, we would find a way out of many global problems – together.

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Don't miss the chance to witness this thrilling masterpiece at the Guangzhou Opera House from July 10 to July 14.

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Scan the QR Code for Tickets

With its gripping plot, stunning performances, and immersive atmosphere, this is a must-see event for all theatre enthusiasts and Agatha Christie fans.

Secure your tickets now for an unforgettable evening of suspense and drama!


[All images provided to That's by Guangzhou Opera House]

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