The final production of Manhattan Arts Center’s theatre company’s 2021 fall season, Agatha Christie’s 1943 adaptation for the stage of her 1939 dark suspense novel, “And Then There Were None,” opened in the Grosh Performance Hall this past Friday evening. Three more shows upcoming this week: Friday and Saturday evening with a Sunday matinee to close the run.

Regardless of whether a Christie mystery is your favorite cuppa, you just gotta count the MAC players local heroes. By players I mean every last person, on stage and off, who helps keep making the magic happen, play after play, year after year.

These past pandemic months in particular, when “semi-confined” became the “normal” status for so many, electronic synthetics like television (including streaming), zoom, and the ubiquitous cellphone became our virtual window on the world. Yet welcome as they were and are, they can never match the taste and grit of real. Like for real real.

Which is why just being able to become part of an actual audience, simply to participate in an event that’s really happening right before our eyes, directly to and for us, is such a blessing, and why those who give of themselves so generously to deliver the whole package to and for us with such grace and affection deserve all the gratitude we can heap on them.

The kicker: most of this skilled labor is volunteer! They do it for free. Do they enjoy doing it? Never asked, but I’m pretty sure they do. Which doesn’t make their labors of love any the less caring. If doing good boosts their egos, if they value the applause they earn instead of lucre, so much the better.

Now as to that Christie play, as with nearly everything Dame Agatha ever penned, our chief concern is bound to be — you guessed it — whodunit. As you’ve probably also guessed, you’re not going to learn that here. If you want answers, you can take yourself on down to the MAC and find out.

This much I’ll tell you: it all takes place in a single room of an isolated house on a small island off the coast of Devon (Christie’s beloved home turf). The island itself is largely cut off from the rest of the world, so for story purposes the house is effectively a “locked room.”

Meaning that when characters start dropping dead, in keeping with the formula implied by the title, you can test your spot-the-perp skills. Make sure to factor in all your I-know-Agatha savvy as well because, as you remember, she never really plays fair, always drops a load of red herrings along the way just to mislead you.

Of course a capable cast can easily contribute to your confusion as well, adding to the spin of the plot’s already skewed curve. And there’s no lack of guile among our trusty troupe of twelve pretenders, some young recruits, some old familiar faces. If you want their names (and photos, too!) that’s just another reason to head to MAC.

But I can’t close without at least a nod to its director, Kim Riley, who captains the crew of this doomed vessel through all shoals to — dare I say “safe”? — harbor. So all the slain are back to take well-earned bows at curtain call. Well done, all!

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