Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have brought you here to charge you with the following crimes...

I've written about this before on here, but And Then There Were None is my favourite Agatha Christie book - and one of the first "grown-up" books I ever read. An early precursor to Big Brother, it involves 10 strangers, summoned to an island, who are then bumped off one by one, along the lines of the nursery rhyme Ten Little Indians (now updated as Ten Little Soliders). Unlike the other Agatha Christie books, there is no detetctive who solves the case, no hero and no happy ending. Just a growing sense of terror and a practically impossible-to-solve mystery. Christie herself was the most proud of the book, saying that it had been a bit of a bitch to work out the mechanics of it all. There have been several very hokey film versions, and a play, all of which copped out, giving it a cheesy happy ending. Despite the fact that I love the 1974 version, which has an international cast, great music and Elke Sommer pushing her ENTIRE fist into her mouth and Oliver Reed doing amazing things with his chin during the climatic accusation scene, the ending kinds of spoils it.

(Elke shows off a very special talent. I think this is about the campest moment in a film ever, even beating Mae West's performance of "You Gotta Taste All the Fruit" in Myra Breckinridge)

So I was interested to hear that there is a new play of And Then There Were None at the Geilgud in London, which remains faithful to the book and has been updated to suit the gory tastes of modern audiences. And despite the fact that the genre has practically played itself out, it was actually pretty good. The set is wonderfully designed - very art deco mansion with big windows, pillars and glam white sofas. The murders are rather graphic - including the first victim projectile vomitting all over the stage, and it manages to stay on the right side of camp, just. The play also goes back to its frightfully British roots, with various jibes at social class and Englishness. Tara Fitzgerald as a posh governess and Anthony Howell as the manly "dashing" captain are the pretty people who provide sex appeal. Unfortunately, after they've had sex, they discover a severed head, so it kind of kills the moment...

I love how everyone freaks out every time they realise that one more of the little solider figurines in the living room have gone missing - because that means someone else has been killed. And I loved how the audience good-naturedly booed the murderer at the curtain call.

There is also a computer game of the book now, which is maybe de trop, even for me.


matty said...

Oh, I miss Elke! Are you old enough to remember when she used to push her watercolor painting on bad tv shows in the 70's? ...My father took me to see LISA & THE DEVIL when I was a kid. It freaked me out.

Will Robbie Williams look like Oliver Reed in 10 years?

Lubin said...

Elke has her own "artists" website now. http://members.aol.com/elkesommer/

I was going to comment that Oliver Reed looked like Robbie Williams, but thought nobody else would see it. They're probably have the same chromosones missing.

Mae West NYC said...

Come up and see Mae -