The uncrowned queen of the crime thriller, Agatha Christie was born 129 years ago. She was an especially successful and productive writer: she published 80 novels, which have been translated to many languages all over the world. After the Bible, and the works of Shakespeare, her novels have sold the most copies.

The source of her success

The success of Agatha Christie’s books doesn’t only come from the great twists, but also from her simple wording. All her books are easy to read, she shares information through conversations, she doesn’t bore her audience with meaningless exposition, she focuses on the plot.

This simple writing style is utilized by other bestseller writers like Stephen King and Danielle Steel as well. The point is to use short words and sentences, a word, on average shouldn’t contain more than four characters, a paragraph shouldn’t be more than three sentences. They don’t use foreign expressions, this way they can present a writing, that’s easy to understand.

Her most successful novel

Her novel, titled Ten Little Niggers was released in England in 1936, for the American release the title was changed to “And Then There Were None” – the change was necessary for political reasons, in the first movie adaptation the word “nigger” was changed in the poem, to “Indian”. With over 100 million copies sold, it’s the world’s most successful crime novel and sixth most successful novel of all time.

And Then There Were None

The story takes place on a small island, upon which a mansion stands. Ten people gather here: two are part of the staff, the others are guests – however the host is nowhere to be found. As they’re preparing for dinner, an ominous voice reads their past crimes out loud – the source of the voice is a gramophone in the neighboring room. As they’re contemplating just what is happening to them, one of them gets sick from their drink, and suffocates – just as it’s written in a poem above the fireplace:

„Ten little nigger boys went out to dine

One choked his little self, and then there were nine.”

Aside of the framed poem, there stand ten porcelain figures, after each death, one of these disappears. They soon find out they’re alone on the island: there’s no one there besides them, whoever is behind all this is amongst them. The mansion is separated from the outside world by the raging sea, the guests are left alone with the ten porcelain figures, and with someone, who keeps reducing both their, and the figures’ numbers.

On the stage

In Játékszín you can experience this drama adapted from the novel – the novel has been cleverly shortened to the length of a play, nothing is lost from the story, or the excitement. A play, that’s able to give its full value even with only one location, has stood the test of the dramas – this is exactly what happened here. We only see the saloon of the mansion, the set doesn’t change between acts, we can still follow almost every thread, and it’s not distracting, when we only hear about something after it has happened in another part of the mansion.

The actors give unmatched performances as Agatha Christie’s as it were typical characters. The play is performed by: Tamás Sághy, Miklós Benedek, Viktória Lévay, András Csonka, János Gálvölgyi, Steve Hajdu, Máté Tóth, Gergely Csizmadia, Judit Tóth, Kornél Pusztaszeri, Kati Zsurzs, and Lili Horváth. All of them fit their parts perfectly, and just like with every performance, one of the most exciting moments is, when after the bow, the actors regain their own faces.

The thriller is brought to life by the lighting and sound effects, we almost scream along with the frightened characters on stage, and we can take part in one of the most beautiful and shortest on-stage storms. The story never slows down for a moment, every single dialogue takes us closer to the conclusion, and where the writer and the director have composed tension, it delivers without a doubt.

The theatre is small, this takes us physically close to the characters, thus it’s easy to become fully engaged with what’s happening – those in the first row are practically sitting on the stage, everything is easy to see even from the backmost seats of the gallery (we tested it ourselves).

The play is full of surprises even for those, who know the story – some minor, and some bigger changes have been made at some points, in a way that doesn’t in any way diminish from the values of the original work.