DCP Theatre is the little engine that tries.
And they've been trying--- with evident success--- for over sixty years in a comfortably intimate and smartly converted auction house on a narrow country lane outside the bucolic village of Telford in Montgomery County, PA.
And what it is that they've been trying to do is neatly captured in the words of a news article from a few years back that described their birth as arising from a discussion between "some friends who had attended a play at a local women's club and later (after a few drinks at the local pub) theorized that they could do better."
Has there ever been a more forthright and honest admission of why any of us gets involved in non-paying, brutally time-consuming, and largely thankless community theater endeavors that drain our gas tanks, fray our nerves, and strain our friendships!
And there is great temptation to turn that phrase back on DCP in describing their production of Agatha Christie's classic murder mystery, 'And Then There Were None', playing through April 22, 2017.
"They could do better."
But I won't turn it back on them. I'll just change the punctuation mark.
They could do better?
In little ways, perhaps, they could--- a little quicker off the cues, a bit more confident with their entrances and exits, a bit less timid with their projection.
But, those are petty observations and don't even rise to the level of complaint.
The problem with this production is that a thoroughly earnest and refreshingly unpretentious company of players is trying to pump new life into a nearly moribund British Colonialism-era melodrama that may be past reviving, despite anyone's best and most heroic efforts.
Nevertheless, I applaud the skills of everyone--- front of house, back of stage, and all those in between.
At what was a bone-chilling dusk, you entered a toasty and deeply amiable lobby filled with fellow patrons and welcoming volunteers. On opening night, you were even offered a complimentary glass of wine and beckoned by ushers to bear it into the theater with you as you selected your general admission-seating perch for the evening ahead.
The set floated on a high stage before you, invitingly warm, convincingly seaside, and encouragingly solid.
The play has a brilliantly simple conceit to it, as described crisply in DCP's press materials---
"Ten guilty strangers are trapped on an island.
"One by one they are accused of murder.
"One by one they start to die."
Brian Keller, with whom we've worked on several occasions, never ceases to elicit smiles and a satisfying level of comfort when he enters a playing area, and he didn't fail us as his world-weary Phllip Lombard accompanied the lovely and utterly winning Emily West, in the role of Vera Claythorne, into our line of sight.
Both Keller and West were wonderfully suited for the challenges of their characters' flaws, the retired mercenary soldier who admittedly fled a desperate situation in one of the African colonies, abandoning the indigenous troops under his command to a grisly fate, and the tragically failed governess whose youthful charge drowned when she may not have been paying close enough attention.
Unsurprisingly, every character who follows is soon revealed to have committed in his or her past some overt or omissive act that resulted in an innocent victim's demise.
Guess what happens to them.
You'll have to go see for yourself because I can't tell you much more without spoiling the whole thing.
I dearly wish I could have been in attendance at one of the early productions of this piece of theater, before the many and successively tedious film adaptations had been so widely circulated and re-played on late night television (alternately entitled 'And Then There Were None' and 'Ten Little Indians", but NEVER called by the name given the novel upon which the play is based) because way back in 1943 it must have been all so fresh and surprising and goose-bumpish.
By now, however, it seems too "Cheerio" and "Old chap", but especially "Ho hum".
I guess, in the end, I'm suggesting that you should give this well-oiled production an honest chance to win you over; that no matter how you feel about it at final curtain, you won't have any regrets about spending your evening in such pleasant, if doomed, company; and that DCP doesn't have to prove anything to anyone who loves theater;
The determined and finely-tuned cast includes, Matt Mazz, Sam Levy, David WIlliams, Barbara Bettin, Jim Maurer, Sheri C. Renihard, Ron Lake, Jared Lingle, and Chris Anderson. The play is directed by John Weber. The set was designed by Mark Henry. The accommodating lighting and fine costuming were designed by Geoff Yaroschak and Michelle Lingle, respectively.
DCP Theatre is located at 795 Ridge Road,Telford, PA 18969.
Parking is free.
For more information and tickets, please visit https://www.dcptheatre.com or call the box office at (215) 234-0966.