Agatha Cristie thriller on stage
NSU presents its Annual Drama 2008
Sarwat Tarannum Nadia
Annual Drama is the most happening event of the year for the students of North South University. Amidst the hectic schedules of classes and exams, it comes as a pleasant chance to set the spirit free, relax and enjoy. As the last year's event was postponed due to some unavoidable difficulties, everyone was eagerly waiting for the Annual Drama 2008.
North South University's Cine and Drama Club (CDC) presented its 23rd production "And Then There Were None" at the National Theatre Stage of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on 9 and 10 March. It is a blood-chilling murder mystery authored by Agatha Christie, which was one of the best-selling novels of UK when it was published in 1939.
In her welcome note, Rehana Rahman, chairperson of NSU expressed her contentment at the fact that CDC has been producing plays comparable to the professional theatre groups of the country since the inception of the organization.
Inspired by the success of their previous production Mouse Trap in 2003,also a thriller by Agatha Christie, CDC ventured again to stage this play that was later transformed into a play by the author herself in 1943. Both the book and the play were published under the title Ten Little Niggers.
In brief, the storyline of the play follows a masterful murder plan by a person apparently by the name U. N Owen (Notice the similarity with the word unknown). He managed to lure eight different persons to the mysterious Indian Island where they meet the last two 'guests', the husband and wife butler-cook team. The ten poor things then were subjected to the horrifying death trap of the 'unknown' host. In the novel, everyone gets killed, justifying the title that was given later, And Then There Were None. As it was impossible to stage a play with such ending, it was changed afterward.
As the curtain rose, the audience came to see a cosy and charming living room with butler couple arranging the place for some expected guests. The guests arrive one by one, each with some dramatic caricature capable to draw the attention of the spectators. The ten characters being introduced to each other, reveals the fact that they all came here for some Mr. or Mrs. U. N. Owen, either being invited or employed.
Suddenly one notices 10 figurines hanging on the wall and a popular nursery rhyme titled Ten little Indians written below them. The rhyme starts with the line Ten little Indian Boys going out to dine, and after each of the boys get killed in a bizarre manner, concludes with the line And then there were none.
The rhyme is the motif, which is used to describe the way the guests will be murdered, the fact discovered later. While in the play, the holiday mood was abruptly interrupted by a mysterious voice playing in the recorder. The voice, terrifying as it was, was accusing each of the guests as murderers. Mentioning the name of the victims, the voice goes on saying that, none will be spared punishment. Shocked and annoyed by the annoncement, the guests want to leave the place at once but discover there was no escape from the guesthouse as it was situated in an island detached from the mainland.
The play successfully retains the audience in the play in which the guests start to get killed one after another with a similar manner written in the nursery rhyme. After each murder, one of the dolls mysteriously drops from the wall, as a proof of following the particular pattern. The fear spread completely on the characters, for each started to confess their involvement with the crime they were accused with.
However, in the end two of the guests survived, as they were innocent, and were able to kill the master planner who happened to be one among the guests.
ABM Ziaul Haque Bhuiyan, visiting lecturer at Dhaka University, directed the play. The casts of the play included Shahriar, Azaz, Ishita, Shuchi, Ovee, Razzaq, Jubair, Shihab, Shreoshi, Shujon and Adnan. The young actors from CDC were quite credible in their roles, in particularly Jubair in the role of funny Mr. Blore; Shreyoshi in the role of a crotchety spinster, Miss Emilly; Shuchi and Ovee in the role of Vera and Lombard, who finally escape the murderer's clutch; were repeatedly applauded by the audience.
The cleverly made set allowed the stage to seem like a real duplex guesthouse with plenty of rooms and, the lights were effective to sustain the suspense of the play. The music was also impressive except it overlapped the dialogues in some scenes.
Translated by the students themselves, the play is the 23rd production of CDC, which is now running its 12th year. Students of the department of Drama and Dramatics, Dhaka University provided theatrical helps to CDC. Dr. Israfil Shaheen and Abdus Selim were in overall co-ordination of the play.
The Chairperson of North South University, Rehana Rahman; Vice Chancellor Hafiz G A Siddiqui; and Pro-vice chancellor S A M Khairul Bashar were present at the event along with several eminent personalities from the media.