This is the full version of a review published by the Mid Sussex Times.
There are eight house-guests expected for a weekend on Soldier Island, off the coast of Devon, and Rogers the butler (John Merrett) and his housekeeper wife (Pearl White) are a-fluster with arrangements as sailor Narracott (Graham Lee) explains that he only calls once a day with deliveries.
Invited by a mysterious Mr Owen whose arrival is delayed, the first boat delivers smoothie William Blore (Stuart Lawson) complete with South African accent, and dashing Captain Lombard (Ben Carden) who is looking forward to a romance with secretary Vera Claythorne (Debbie Dillon). She arrives with Dr Edwina Armstrong (Sue Wicks), General MacKenzie (David Tettersell), elderly judge Sir Lawrence Wargrave (Bill Colbourne), and grim Emily Brent (Nan Crofton), complete with knitting and Bible. Young Anthony Marston (Joe Ottaway) breezes in to complete the party
Self-important introductions over, they are assembled to dine when an anonymous, recorded voice addresses each person present, accusing them of heinous crimes for which they have escaped conviction. They are on the island to now pay for these crimes. Mrs Rogers collapses, but gung ho Anthony Marston, who in the past has callously run down two children, helps himself to a drink. It’s poisoned and he chokes and dies. One of the little soldiers on the mantelpiece is discovered to be broken.
The next morning there is no breakfast and, on further investigation Mrs Rogers is discovered dead in bed and yet another soldier is broken on the mantel. A frantic search of the island by the guests reveals that they are alone and so they come to the conclusion that one of those present must be the murderer!
A storm is brewing, and they are cut off from the mainland by either boat or telephone. The bodies then begin to pile up; General MacKenzie is old, lonely and haunted by his wife whose lover he sent off to his death. He’s dispatched with a knife in his back and Rogers who, in collaboration with his wife, has killed their employer, is struck down with an axe. We’re glad when Emily Brent, an evil and self-righteous hag, who abandoned her pregnant maid to commit suicide, also meets with an unpleasant end and still the soldiers continue to be broken inexorably.
Then, just when it couldn’t seem to get any worse, the generator fails and in an atmospheric candle-lit scene the tension between the remaining guests is palpable. Vera, (who is no angel, having apparently left a young lad in her charge to drown) swings between hysteria and common sense. She is convinced Dr Edwina Armstrong – a reformed drunk who has operated and killed under the influence – is the most obvious killer. But then the doctor goes missing after Sir Lawrence Wargrave is shot by Captain Lombard’s mislaid gun.
William Blore investigates outside and is crushed by a heavy clock in the shape of a bear. Goodness –only two are left. However, it wouldn’t be an Agatha Christie if there wasn’t a surprising twist at the end.
Under the sure guidance of director, Susie D’Arcy, the Ditchling Players gave us a gripping and entertaining evening with sterling performances put in by all the cast. As the curtain came down the enthusiastic applause was well deserved, as was the vigorous hissing that greeted Bill Colbourne for his creepy and devious Sir Lawrence Wargrave.