In Tyler Civic Theatre's staging of "And Then There Were None," it's not a question of if characters will die but when they will die — and how.
The tension grows more intense as the characters one by one meet their doom, director Michael Ward said.
"To me, it's all about not knowing what's coming next," said Ward, who has acted in many TCT plays and whose directing credits include last year's "Singing in the Rain."
Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at 400 Rose Park Drive in Tyler.
Tickets cost $18 for general admission and $15 for students and are available at tylercivictheatre.com and the box office, 903-592-0561.
The play was adapted from a 1939 novel by English writer Agatha Christie. Ten people are lured to an island off the coast of England and then killed as foretold in a children's rhyme.
Each character has an interesting backstory, said Ward, adding that the fun for the audience will be trying to figure out who is responsible for the deaths.
"From the beginning Agatha (Christie) leaves clues," he said.
At intermission, the theater will poll the audience to see who they think the culprit is.
Cast member Ben Michael is heard at the beginning of the play setting up the story for the audience.
He said the challenge for the actors is to slowly build the level of terror their character is feeling without taking it so far that it seems campy.
"Every single one of the people onstage do an excellent job of walking that tightrope," he said.
S. Blake Rohus, who was seen in TCT's "The Complete Works of Shakespeare-Abridged," is the assistant director.
He said he and Ward are trying to create the experience of watching a scary black-and-white murder mystery movie come to life.
The play's promotional material and choices for costumes and sets reflect the black-and-white color palette.
The lack of color contributes to the feeling of doom and dread, he said.
"We are staging this at Halloween so that the audience will come in with that (uneasy) mentality," he said. "We want them to be a little afraid."