The setup is standard: a mixed bag of guests, a remote location and an imaginative litany of murders. It's business as usual for Agatha Christie, which is why And Then There Were None works so well.
The play, which opens Friday at Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre, finds 10 guests assembled on a remote island off the Devon coast. Each carries a dark secret and could be a killer who is working his or her way through the guest list.
"The challenge with this is making everyone look like a suspect," said David Bartlett, who plays William Blore, a former police inspector. "But you have to do it without putting a big neon light over the character that actually is guilty."
The pleasure of Agatha Christie, said Steve Walpert, the production's director, stems not only from seeing a well-plotted mystery unfold but also from playing amateur detective, trying to discern not only who done it, but also who will get done.
"It's sort of like playing Clue in Bizarro world," said Sara Bryan, who plays the self-righteous spinster Emily Brent. "Instead of trying to guess what happened, the audience is trying to guess what will happen."
Mr. Walpert said staging the mystery was a shell game, a process of offering false leads, fake clues and the odd misdirection.
"There are times when, just through staging, we've tried to shift focus toward a character that might, or might not, be the killer," he said. "We're trying to throw the audience a couple of curve balls."
Although it is staged as a period piece, John Gary Pullen, who plays Phillip Lombard, an adventurer famous for escaping deadly scrapes, said the piece remains timely and well-written.
"She (Agatha Christie) was ahead of her time," he said.
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R.C. Rique/StaffAn ensemble cast is featured in Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre's staging of the Agatha Christie mystery And Then There Were None. The play opens Friday at the Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre.[CAPTION]