Director Felix Hadler has murder on his mind as he prepares to bring Agatha Christie’s most famous mystery to the stage with the Wagga School of Arts.
The play And Then There Were None is an adaptation of Christie’s 1939 novel and was reworked for the stage by the murder-mystery maestro herself.
“She got paid through writing books but she loved writing theatre,” Felix explained, sitting comfortably on an oval stage in the centre of Wagga’s Basement Theatre.
“This story lays the claim to being her best selling book of all time with over 100 million copies sold worldwide and in multiple languages.”
And Then There Were None tells the story of 10 strangers, lured to a remote island, where they find themselves stranded with a murderer who picks them off one by one.
The genre defining who-done-it has been adapted for film and TV multiple times and has influenced countless plotlines, including the recent blockbusters Knives Out and The Glass Onion.
“It’s considered very influential in not just the murder-mystery and thriller genres, but also in the slasher genre where it is sometimes considered the original,” Felix said.
“The central plot is a whole bunch of people in an isolated area, trapped with a serial killer.
“The suspense and the horror comes from who’s next and how are they going to die and, like a modern slasher, it’s also a bit funny.”
Felix has been involved with the Wagga School of Arts all his life and says he was literally “born into it”.
“My parents have been working with the company since before my oldest sister was born and my three other siblings and I all got involved at a very young age,” he said.
Along with a range of smaller roles and plenty of work behind the scenes, Felix recently had the chance to be a leading man in SoACT’s Ten x 10 Playfest.
“I was Sherlock Holmes in a show called ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’ and I am quite proud of that one,” he said with a smile.
“I’ve also directed some of the Ten x 10 plays before and I’ve done a lot of sound and lights for the bigger shows, but this is my first time directing a show of this size and scale.”
Rather than staging the production at the front of the theatre within the traditional proscenium arch, And Then There Were None will be performed ‘in-the-round’ with the audience surrounding the stage on three sides.
“We wanted to do it in-the-round because it’s an inherently more interesting experience for the audience,” Felix said.
“They tend to expect theatre to be basically like a 3D film, but this gives us a lot more space to work with and we can have the characters move around, on-and-off the stage and we can have them exit and enter from various places.
“So both from an audience, and also from a performance standpoint, doing it in-the-round is very fun and, given that it’s all set on an island, that works for the story too.”
Now that the Ten x 10 Playfest is behind them, Felix said that he and the cast of 11 actors would begin rehearsals in earnest to prepare for a run of six Sunday shows, kicking off from 13 August.
“Things are going quite smoothly at the moment and we’re looking to ramp up next month because we really want to make sure that this is the best show we can possibly make it.”
You can find out more about And Then There Were None or book your seat here.