MANKATO — Since it’s an Agatha Christie mystery, the following statements about Minnesota State University’s upcoming production of “And Then There Were None” should be spoiler-free:
Characters will die. They will die early, and they will die often.
In fact, “And Then There Were None” features the highest body count of any of Christie’s stage adaptations. And MSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance won’t be hiding any of it offstage.
Director and MSU theatre instructor Heather Hamilton said observant audience members will see all the clues for themselves. She said even those not familiar with Christie’s 1939-book-turned-1943-play may be able to deduce whose villainy is behind the murders of 10 mysterious guests at a mansion on Soldier Island.
“Those who don’t already know the story could figure it out,” she said. “We’ve got all the clues in there. Nothing happens offstage.”
The book version of “And Then There Were None” remains the best-selling novel by the world’s best-selling author not named Shakespeare. The play version, adapted by Christie herself, forgoes some of the psychological intensity of the book, but sacrifices none of the suspense.
The play opens with 10 individuals invited to a mansion off the coast of Devon, England. Each is coaxed under different pretenses, but all are similar in one respect: Each of them is guilty of some past transgression — though, many of the characters refuse to acknowledge their culpability.
When the characters arrive at the mansion, they find 10 soldier statuettes on the mantel. As each guest is felled by the murderer, so too are the statuettes. A nursery rhyme explains each of the deaths as the guests succumb to their fates.
“It’s such a fun script,” Hamilton said of Christie’s play, which is making its MSU debut. “We’re not trying to do anything new or different with it.”