Little Theatre presents Agatha Christie mystery

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The cast of this week’s Natchez Little Theatre production is dying for you to see them.

Literally, that is. One-by-one, person-by-person, they are goners and it’s your job to figure out the whodunit.

The plot is outlined from the beginning in this poem:

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“Ten little Indian boys went out to dine;

One choked himself and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;

One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon;

One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;

One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;

A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Indian boys going in for law;

One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea;

A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo;

A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun;

One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone;

He went and hanged himself and then there were none.”

But solving the mystery isn’t that easy, crew and cast members of “Ten Little Indians” said.

“Some of the people you actually see die, and some die off stage,” Director Lynn Mann said. “You don’t know until the very end who the killer is. Because of the way they are killed you are wondering who did it.”

Agatha Christie’s book — also known as “And then there were None” — has been called the greatest mystery novel of all time, and the Little Theatre wanted to make it a part of their lineup this year.

As part of their 75th anniversary season the theater’s directors decided to do a retrospective of plays, picking one from each decade.

Mann chose “Ten Little Indians.”

“It’s always been one of my favorites,” she said. “And when the cast started reading it and putting their personalities with it, it just became hysterical.”

The comedy wasn’t something Mann and theater Executive Director Layne Taylor expected. But it’s the show stealer, they said.

“The actors just came alive,” Taylor said. “We were laughing to the point of hysteria because we didn’t realize what a humorous play we had.”

The play, modeled after the novel, sets 10 strangers on an island for a mysterious trip. Each guest has a sordid background with evil acts involved, and soon they begin to die, one-by-one.

Rusty Jenkins, who plays Sir Lawrence Wargrave, said it’s the mystery that makes this production unique.

“I like the way the story falls together,” he said. “It’s very cleverly written.”

Opening night is at 7:30 Thursday. Performances will continue at 7:30 Friday and Saturday.

The final showing will be a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday.

Tickets are $15 and should be reserved in advance by calling 601-442-2233.