“Murder by number: A lighthearted ‘Ten Little Indians’”

Times Writer

Murder is much more palatable when it’s predictable. There’s a certain satisfaction, even comfort, when you’re dealing with a crazed homicidal lunatic who’s decided to eliminate a large number of people in some logical yet twisted way.

All the terror of a situation can be lost, drained out like water in a colander full of spaghetti. But that isn’t necessarily bad, as shown by the Anchorage Community Theatre production of “Ten Little Indians.” Sometimes the whole process of vanquishing life is more entertaining than the end result – particularly when Agatha Christie’s classic tale is paired with some fine performances from a versatile cast.

Director Neil O’Leary has followed [Agatha] Christie’s lead and captured the almost whimsical quality of her less-than-ordinary preoccupation with death. He trades hardcore terror for delicious thrills, rather like the spine- tingling yet eminently safe charge you get from riding a roller coaster.

Standouts on opening night Friday included Russell Bell as Sir Lawrence Wargrave and Rusty Stone as William Blore, both bringing power and charisma to their roles. Likewise, Eileen Pyne, as the voluptuous secretary Vera Claythorne, injected a nice note of needed terror into the proceedings, although her outburst-‘ sometimes bordered on the blustery.

But the performance of the evening belonged to Dan Wolfe as the sarcastic Capt. Lombard. His portrayal lent an air of nastiness to the proceedings that set the tone for the production.

“… Indians” makes for an entertaining – although less than terrifying – evening.