Who doesn’t like a little mystery? And suspense?
Well this year, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s 17th annual Master Playwright Fest has a lot of mystery and suspense for you.
The festival is featuring the works of the queen of mystery and suspense, Agatha Christie, the world’s best selling novelist. And, one of my mom’s favourites. Hopefully I can talk her into going to one or two plays.
My first Master Playwright Festival was during my first year back to Winnipeg after living in B.C. for the better part of the ’90’s. It was Brechtfest (2002) featuring the work of Bertolt Brecht.
What interested me more about hearing the name Brecht was my love of the music of Kurt Weill. Weill’s music had been used in many of Brecht’s plays.
I went for the music but I came out with a huge appreciation of live theatre. Having worked in film and video in the past, with live theatre, the actors can’t just stop and ‘redo’ a scene.
The beauty of the Master Playwright Festival is that for about 19 days each February, theatre lovers can literally immerse themselves in the playwright.
There are usually about 13 or so plays as well as films, readings and director/ actor panels with Q & A sessions. One heckuva a way to either appreciate a favourite playwright or acquaint yourself with one you are not too familiar with.
“And Then There Were None” was written in 1939. It’s a timeless piece that could have been written last year if it were not for the mention of a gramophone.
Various theatre groups take part in the festival. This year, Luis Reis directed the Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre troupe in this 1939 classic.
The storyline involves a group of people, unknown to each other, who are invited to a secluded island. They are greeted by the servants who explain that the hosts haven’t arrived yet.
The cast in the play are brilliant as each character has deep dark secrets and each are put in the spotlight, so to speak, throughout the play which takes place over the course of two days. Some very colourful characters.
An old nursery rhyme, “Ten Little Soldiers” stares the guests in the eyes which seems innocent enough at first. On closer inspection it seems to be predicting the manner of demise (in a veiled way) that each will suffer.
In typical Agatha Christie style, there are many twists throughout as the audience tries to figure out ‘whodunnit?’ I myself experienced tingling-down-the-spine, goosebumps, fear (from a couple blood-curdling screams) and a bit of laughter along the way. What a story!
Love this genre of theatre all of a sudden. The audience, sold out on this first night, actually gets involved as they try to put the pieces of the puzzle together as clues and false clues are dropped. Perhaps there are clues in this review or maybe in the photos. Hmmmm.
Four more shows at:
Theatre Cercle Moliere 340 Provencher Blvd.
Thu. Feb. 9 at 8:05 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 10 at 8:05 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 11 at 2:05 p.m. & 8:05 p.m.
For more info on ChristieFest visit http://www.royalmtc.ca/MPF
All photos by Doug Kretchmer