WHEN it is a story about 10 strangers stuck on an island with death all around them it is easy to wonder how the group of actors with their range of experience and talent will gel on stage.

Well, there was nothing to fear with the cast of And Then There Were None which opened at Theatre Royal Windsor on Tuesday night.

This is the latest offering by the Agatha Christie Theatre Company and as murder-mysteries go this was as thrilling and as tense as they come.

A cast as rich as this was bound to deliver. With actors such as Paul Nicholas (Sir Lawrence Wargrave), Susan Penhaligon (Emily Brent) and Eric Carte (General MacKenzie) you know you are going to see great things because they are considered among the greats.

So it leaves one wondering how the younger ones on stage with them will compare and blend in. It is easy to fear ‘the greats’ will be too big a match. But former soap-star Verity Rushworth (Vera Claythorne) proved them otherwise. Verity commanded the stage and the cast with ease, elegance and confidence. As Mrs Owen’s secretary her character appeared to be the most natural to welcome and introduce all the other players onto the stage and into the story. She was perfectally cast for this and remained the constant link as the mystery unravelled.

With a fabulous costume designer behind her Verity stood out among the greats, held her own with the experience of Mark Curry (Doctor Armstrong) and Colin Buchanan (William Blore) and although a little shakey at first developed a rapport with Ben Nealon (Philip Lombard) before executing the final scene with dramatic affect.

Each actor was able to portray their character with the mystery that surrounded them brilliantly.

This is widely considered to be Christie’s masterpiece and with over 100 million copies sold has become one of the best-selling books of all time.

The 10 people are enticed to the elegant house on an island in Devon. Gradually each of them are killed – matching up to a nursery rhyme on display in the house where 10 soldiers sit. One disappears each time someone is found dead -– or just before.

The set for this was inspiring, creating not just a feel for the time it is based, but also for the chilling, thrilling and apprehensive atmosphere needed to deliver a murder-mystery.

And you have to hand it to director Joe Harmston. If someone is able to direct a cast of 10 in a murder-mystery so incredibly slick to the point where the entire audience is not only sat on the edge of their seat but also extinguishes a huge breath of “huhhhhhhhhhhh” as they all think they have spotted something which points a finger at whodunnit then they really are a good director.

It really was like being among hundreds of amateur sleuths. Especially when you hear murmurs of suggestions and ideas around you as the play unfolds. People were gripped to the point where they thought they were in the mystery themselves.

And Then There Were None marks the 10th anniversary of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company. And we can’t get enough of them.

And Then There Were None is at Theatre Royal Windsor until January 24. Other productions coming up include Twelve Angry Men from January 27-February 7, Three Men In A Boat from February 23-28 and The History Boys from March 9-14. For tickets call the box office on 01753 853888 or visit www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk