Last night saw the premiere of the first episode of the mini series based on Agatha Christie’s novel of the same name. I need to point out right now that I have not read the book so this review will not be a comparison between the two.
The story is this-Ten strangers are invited to an island under false pretenses on the eve of world war two, what for? Nobody knows. They all have one thing in common, each has a secret that has been discovered by their mysterious host, Ulfric Norman Owen. Within the space of an evening they find they have a killer in their midst. They must find the killer before it is too late.
First and foremost I’d like to say this, if the other two episodes are as good as the first, then the BBC is onto a winner. Last night’s episode wasn’t just engaging, it was absorbing. While they started from a strong position by picking this story, it could easily have been let down by bad acting. With the likes of Sam Neill, Charles Dance and Miranda Richardson though, you know you are going to be watching something wonderful. For me though, it was Anna Maxwell Martin’s performance of Mrs. Rogers that stole every scene she was in.
Her relationship with Mr. Rogers, the butler, had driven her close to edge, even before they arrive on the island. As such she displayed heartbreaking obsequiousness that was tough to watch. I didn’t just feel sorry for her, I wanted to remove her from the band of vultures to a place where she could get better. As for the others, Agatha Christie has imbued almost all of them with such loathsome characteristics, that I for one would feel afraid to be in a room with them.
Only Miss Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard are worthy of anything other than contempt. For one thing, we focus on Miss Claythorne (ably played by Maeve Dermody) before we get to the island. Therefore we get to empathise with her. A scene set on the coast gives us a hint that an incident had occurred, affecting her deeply. Her interactions with Philip Lombard showed that she could look after herself, however.
By the end of the hour, the guests’ secrets had been revealed and two had been murdered. All that matters now, is to watch and wait.